Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 24, 2018

Mueller pushes to interview Trump soon, Schumer withdraws a proposed deal on funding for Trump's wall, and more

1

Mueller seeks to interview Trump in coming weeks

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is pushing to question President Trump in coming weeks about his firing of FBI Director James Comey, as well as the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing two people familiar with the plan. The move comes as Mueller's team increases its focus on whether Trump or his aides have tried to obstruct the investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion by Trump associates. Trump's legal team reportedly is working on terms that would allow for some face-to-face questions and others to be answered in writing. Comey was interviewed by Mueller's team last year, The New York Times reported Tuesday, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned for several hours last week.

2

Schumer takes offer to fund Trump's wall 'off the table'

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) on Tuesday withdrew an offer to fund President Trump's proposed wall on the Mexican border, raising doubts about the prospects of an immigration deal a day after senators reached a compromise to end a three-day government shutdown. Trump rejected Schumer's offer in a Friday meeting on preventing the shutdown. "The wall offer's off the table," said Schumer, who faced criticism from liberals for agreeing to end the shutdown without restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect young undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers. Trump responded to Schumer's backpedaling on the wall, tweeting: "Cryin' Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA."

3

Nikki Haley says Russia shares blame for Syria chlorine-gas attack

President Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, on Tuesday accused the Syrian government of attacking civilians in a rebel enclave with chlorine gas a day earlier. Haley also slammed Russia for failing to stop its ally from conducting such assaults, which qualify as war crimes under international law, and for vetoing a proposal two months ago to renew the U.N. Security Council's panel for investigating chemical weapon use in Syria's civil war. The veto sent a "dangerous message to the world" that "chemical weapons use is acceptable," Haley said. At least 13 people were injured when rockets containing the gas hit the enclave, Eastern Ghouta, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

4

Gunmen storm Save the Children office in Afghanistan

A suicide bomber and gunmen attacked the office of the Save the Children charity in the city of Jalalabad in Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing one person and wounding at least 14. The casualty count could rise, as the gunmen were still holed up in the building as hospital officials provided the first details on the toll from the attack. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. Both the Taliban and ISIS have fighters in that part of Nangarhar province. The attack followed a weekend siege at Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel that left 22 dead, including 14 foreigners.

5

Senate confirms Jerome Powell as next Fed chair

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Jerome Powell as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. Senators voted 85-12 to approve Powell, who has served more than five years on the U.S. central bank's board and was nominated by President Trump to replace the current chair, Janet Yellen, when her term ends on Feb. 3. Yellen was the first woman to serve in the post, and she has received high marks for her performance. Trump, however, was critical of the Fed during his campaign, and Powell's support for easing some banking regulations puts him in sync with one of Trump's major objectives. Still, most observers expect Powell to stick to Yellen's cautious approach to raising interest rates as the economy improves.

6

2 students killed in Kentucky school shooting

A student opened fire on classmates in a rural Kentucky high school Tuesday, killing two teenagers. Seventeen others were wounded, four of them critically. Hundreds more managed to flee, students said, rushing out of the building as there were "bullets flying everywhere." "It was almost completely silent as people just ran," one student said. The suspect, 15, was arrested at the school and taken away in handcuffs. Police identified the students who died as Bailey Nicole Holt and Preston Ryan Cope, both 15. Authorities did not immediately identify the suspect. The attack was the 11th shooting incident at a U.S. school this year. "This is a wound that is going to take a long time to heal," said Gov. Matt Bevin.

7

U.S., Mexico, and Canada head into crucial NAFTA talks

Negotiators from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico started crucial, week-long talks in Montreal on Tuesday, seeking to break an impasse on U.S. demands for changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. President Trump has called the trade pact a bad deal that has damaged the U.S. economy. His administration is threatening to pull out of NAFTA if it doesn't get the changes, despite fears that scrapping NAFTA would roil financial markets. Canada and Mexico reportedly are open to making concessions on at least one Trump demand — increasing the North American content required in automobiles for them to qualify for duty-free status. This is the sixth round of the talks, which are scheduled to wrap up in March.

8

Trump reportedly asked former acting FBI director how he voted in 2016

President Trump asked Andrew McCabe, then-acting FBI director, how he voted in the 2016 presidential election during a getting-acquainted meeting last May, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing officials who spoke anonymously. McCabe later described the meeting as "disturbing," one of the officials said. McCabe reportedly told Trump he didn't vote. Trump also expressed anger at McCabe over donations his wife received during a failed 2015 state Senate bid in Virginia from a political action committee controlled by a friend of Hillary Clinton, who was Trump's Democratic opponent. Trump later targeted McCabe with angry tweets suggesting the investigation into Russian election meddling was a partisan Democratic attack.

9

Duckworth to be first sitting senator to give birth

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) announced Tuesday that she is expecting her second child. Duckworth, 49, gave birth to her daughter, Abigail O'kalani Bowlsbey, in November 2014 while still a member of the House. Duckworth is the 10th woman to have a child while serving in Congress — Rep. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (D-Calif.) was the first, in 1973. When she has her second child, she will become the first sitting senator to give birth. Duckworth lost both legs in 2004 during the Iraq War when the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. She was elected to the Senate in 2016 after serving in the House for two terms.

10

The Shape of Water leads Oscar nominations

Guillermo del Toro's aquatic fairy tale, The Shape of Water, leads the 2018 Oscar nominees, competing in 13 categories including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress in a Leading Role for star Sally Hawkins. Dunkirk followed with eight nominations, while Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri earned seven nods and Phantom Thread six. All four are competing for Best Picture, alongside The Post, Lady Bird, Get Out, Call Me by Your Name, and The Darkest Hour. The Netflix historical drama Mudbound, meanwhile, made history after Rachel Morrison earned a nomination for Best Cinematography, making her the first woman ever nominated in the category. The Academy Awards will be held March 4 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

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