10 things you need to know today: January 25, 2018
The DOJ threatens to subpoena "sanctuary" cities, Trump says he is "looking forward" to testifying to Mueller, and more
DOJ feud with 'sanctuary' cities escalates
The Justice Department threatened to subpoena 23 "sanctuary" cities, counties, and states if they fail to provide documents indicating whether they are interfering with federal agencies trying to catch or deport undocumented immigrants. In a letter to the jurisdictions, which included Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanded documents indicating whether local law enforcement officers are sharing information with federal authorities enforcing immigration laws. The subpoena threat marked an escalation in the Trump administration's battles with sanctuary cities. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said "racist assault on our immigrant communities" does not "make us safer and it violates America's core values."
Trump 'looking forward' to testifying to Mueller under oath
President Trump said Wednesday he is "looking forward" to answering Special Counsel Robert Mueller's questions in the Russia investigation. "I would love to do it, and I would like to do it as soon as possible," Trump said. "I would do it under oath, absolutely." Trump reiterated that there had been "no collusion" by his associates with Russia's election meddling, and insisted that the only reason that he was being investigated for possible obstruction of justice was his effort to stand up for himself. "Oh well, did he fight back?" Trump said, "You fight back, oh, it's obstruction." Mueller's team told Trump's lawyers that it wants to interview the president about his firing of former FBI Director James Comey and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump arrives in Davos to 'tell the world how great America is'
President Trump arrived at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday to convince skeptical globalists that his protectionist "America First" agenda can be compatible with cooperation. Before starting the trip, Trump tweeted that he planned "to tell the world how great America is and is doing. Our economy is now booming and with all I am doing, will only get better... Our country is finally WINNING again!" Trump delivers a keynote address on Friday. In the days before the trip, Trump slapped a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels, and he angered many foreign leaders by describing Haiti and African nations as "shitholes." Bonang Mohale, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, is urging his fellow Davos attendees to quietly walk out of Trump's speech in protest.
Trump administration imposes new North Korea sanctions
The Trump administration on Wednesday unveiled new sanctions against people and companies believed to be supporting North Korea and its weapons program. "Treasury continues to systematically target individuals and entities financing the Kim regime and its weapons programs, including officials complicit in North Korean sanctions evasion schemes," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. The new sanctions target North Korean and Chinese trading companies, North Korean ships, and North Korea's oil ministry, as well as North Korean representatives in China and Russia linked to the transfer of chemicals and equipment used for weapons production. The measures mark the latest sign of escalating tensions over Pyongyang's missile and nuclear weapons program.
State Department: 4 U.S. citizens among dead in Saturday's Kabul attack
Four American citizens were among the people killed in a Saturday Taliban attack at Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel that left at least 20 dead, the State Department said Wednesday. Two other U.S. citizens were injured. One of the Americans killed was Glenn Selig, a spokesman for Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates, who has been charged in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion by President Trump's associates. Selig, 50, "was in Kabul on a potential success story involving Afghanistan and its steps to battle extremism," according to a statement from his Florida company, Selig Multimedia.
Mnuchin says weak dollar is good for U.S.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that a weak dollar is good for the U.S., sending the dollar plunging in currency markets. "Obviously a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities," Mnuchin said while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he is to talk with U.S. trade partners and encourage investment from businesses. Mnuchin's remarks, ahead of President Trump's arrival in Davos, marked a break with a decades-long U.S. government commitment to a strong dollar. During his 2016 campaign and since, Trump has occasionally said he would like to see the dollar's value fall so U.S. goods would become cheaper and exports would increase.
Trump open to citizenship path for DACA immigrants
President Trump said Wednesday he is open to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented young people brought to the U.S. as children. "We're going to morph into it," he said. "It's going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years." Last year, Trump said he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and gave Congress until March 5 to come up with a legislative solution. Trump said he thinks a deal will be reached, and DACA recipients "should not be concerned" about being deported. He also reiterated that he wants $25 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. "If you don't have a wall you don't have DACA," he said.
Senate narrowly confirms Brownback for religious freedom post
The Senate on Wednesday narrowly confirmed Sam Brownback as President Trump's ambassador for international religious freedom, with Vice President Mike Pence traveling to Capitol Hill to cast the tie-breaking vote. "I'm glad to have the vice president in my corner," Brownback said. The 50-49 vote followed party lines, reflecting Republicans' narrow majority. Brownback will now resign as governor of Kansas after a turbulent seven-year tenure. His opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion make him popular with religious conservatives. Democrats and LGBT rights groups criticized him, particularly after he declined during his confirmation hearing last year to unequivocally declare no country would ever be justified in citing religious freedom as a reason for criminally prosecuting gay people.
DOJ urges Nunes not to release secret memo alleging FBI bias
The Justice Department sent a letter Wednesday to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) urging him not to publicly release a secret memo purportedly showing "shocking" political bias within the FBI. In the memo, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd says publicizing the allegations before the FBI has a chance to review them would be "reckless" because the memo contains secret information and giving it to journalists could cause "risk of harm to national security and to ongoing investigations." "We do not understand why the Committee would possibly seek to disclose classified and law enforcement sensitive information without first consulting with the relevant members of the Intelligence Community," Boyd wrote. He also said the bias allegations were unfounded.
Former USA gymnastics doctor sentenced
Former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison on seven charges of criminal sexual conduct. More than 150 impact statements were read by victims at his trial, including powerful condemnations by Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar he does not "deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again," adding, "I just signed your death warrant." Separately, Nassar was sentenced in December to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes. At Michigan State University, where Nassar served as a team doctor for years, university President Lou Anna Simon resigned on Wednesday night under pressure after being criticized for the handling of the case.