Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 26, 2018

The New York Times reports that Trump tried to fire Mueller, Trump proposes a deal with a citizenship path for 1.8 million immigrants, and more

1

Report: Trump tried to fire Mueller; Trump says, 'Fake news!'

President Trump ordered the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in June, but backed down when White House counsel Donald McGahn threatened to resign rather than carry out Trump's instructions, The New York Times reported Thursday, citing four people informed about the matter. The showdown came after early media reports that Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion by Trump associates was beginning to focus on obstruction. Trump argued that Mueller had three disqualifying conflicts of interest, including a dispute over fees at a Trump golf course, Mueller's former law firm's work for Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, and the fact that Mueller had interviewed to return as FBI director before being named special counsel. Trump on Friday dismissed the report as "fake news."

2

Trump proposal includes citizenship path for 1.8 million immigrants

President Trump is proposing immigration legislation offering a path to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants, White House officials said Thursday. The number would help more than twice as many so-called DREAMers than were protected from deportation under former President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program, in exchange for much tighter restrictions on legal immigration and $25 billion for increased border security. White House officials said the plan, co-written by hard-line Trump adviser Stephen Miller, was "extremely generous." Democrats and some Republicans instantly rejected it. Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigrant group America's Voice, said the proposal was "created to take a wrecking ball to the Statue of Liberty."

3

DOJ inspector general: Missing FBI texts found

The Justice Department's inspector general said Thursday that he had recovered a missing cache of text messages exchanged between two senior FBI officials who investigated both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The officials, senior FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, criticized President Trump in some previously released texts. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, backed off of his assertion that a "whistleblower" had corroborated suggestions that one text between Strzok and Page, who were having an affair, indicated that FBI officials might have created a "secret society" to oppose Trump. Johnson acknowledged that there was a "real possibility" that the text was in jest.

4

Trump threatens to cut more Palestinian aid

President Trump on Thursday threatened to further cut U.S. aid to the Palestinians unless they step up their efforts to make peace with Israel. "That money is on the table, and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace," Trump said. "Because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace. And they’re going to have to want to make peace, too, or we're going to have nothing to do with it any longer." The Trump administration has already announced it was cutting $100 million in payments to the United Nations agency that addresses Palestinian needs. The Palestinian ambassador to the U.S., Husam Zomlot, accused the Trump administration of "backstabbing" the Palestinians.

5

Grassley says Trump Jr. transcript on Russia meeting to be released

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said Thursday that he planned to release the transcripts of his panel's closed-door interviews, including one with Donald Trump Jr., on the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and associates of President Trump. "Let the public have access to it," he said. Democrats, who have pressed for making the transcripts public, applauded the move, but said they still wanted Grassley to subpoena Trump Jr. and the president's son-in-law and aide Jared Kushner for public hearings on their participation in the meeting. Grassley said Kushner had been "spooked" by Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) unilateral release of the transcript of another interview, with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, and would not be appearing before the committee.

6

Meehan says he won't seek re-election to House seat

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) said Thursday that he would not run for re-election this fall because a sexual harassment settlement he paid to a much younger longtime female aide would cause the campaign to "devolve into an ugly spectacle of harsh rhetoric." Meehan spelled out his decision in a letter to his campaign chairman, saying the harassment case had "become a major distraction" and would overshadow "vital issues" if he launched a re-election campaign. "I need to own it because it is my own conduct that fueled the matter," he said, adding, "I do not believe that it is in the best interest of the constituents that I represent." Meehan reportedly confessed romantic feelings for the woman after learning she had developed a serious romantic relationship with another man.

7

South Korea hospital fire kills 37

A fire killed at least 37 people at a hospital in the South Korean city of Miryang on Friday. Another 131 people were injured, 10 of them critically. Authorities warned the death toll could rise. Most of the people killed were patients in an intensive-care unit for people with respiratory illnesses. A doctor, a nurse, and a nurse's assistant also were among the dead. Firefighters managed to rescue patients trapped on the second floor through windows. It took crews an hour and 40 minutes to extinguish the flames. Authorities could not immediately pinpoint the cause of the fire, although they said the hospital did not have a sprinkler system although it was due to install one by June to comply with new regulations.

8

Trump talks up strong dollar, saying Mnuchin's weak dollar plug was misinterpreted

The U.S. dollar edged up on Thursday after President Trump said he favored a strong dollar. "The dollar is going to get stronger and stronger, and ultimately I want to see a strong dollar," Trump said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, ahead of his Friday keynote address. "Our country is becoming so economically strong again and strong in other ways, too." Trump's comment countered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's assertion the day before that a weak dollar was good for the U.S. because it boosted exports by making American goods cheaper overseas. Mnuchin's comments caused the currency to dip on Wednesday. Trump said people had misinterpreted Mnuchin's remarks.

9

Oprah Winfrey says she doesn't 'have the DNA' for a presidential bid

After Oprah Winfrey's Golden Globes speech sparked renewed calls for her to run for president, the billionaire media mogul said in a newly published interview that she doesn't "have the DNA for it." Winfrey is one of the wealthiest businesswomen in the country, as well as the most recognizable African-American woman, possibly after Michelle Obama. Many Democrats and other liberals view her as a promising potential opponent for President Trump in 2020, but Winfrey told InStyle magazine she won't run. "I've always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not," Winfrey said. "And so it's not something that interests me."

10

Casey Affleck withdraws as Oscar presenter

Actor Casey Affleck, who won the Oscar for best actor last year, has withdrawn as a presenter at this year's Academy Awards, a spokeswoman for the organization said Thursday. Affleck was accused by female crew members of sexual harassment in 2010, and talk of the settlements resurfaced ahead of last year's ceremony, where he won for his performance in the family drama Manchester by the Sea. A publicist confirmed that Affleck, 42, would not attend this year's March 4 presentations in Los Angeles, despite the tradition of having past winners serve as presenters. "We appreciate the decision to keep the focus on the show and on the great work of this year," a spokeswoman for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said.

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