Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 28, 2018

Trump's SOTU theme is 'safe, strong, and proud,' Kabul attack death toll tops 100, and more

1

Trump's SOTU theme is 'safe, strong, and proud'

President Trump will give his first State of the Union address Tuesday, a speech the White House said is themed "building a safe, strong, and proud America." The president is expected to highlight Republicans' tax reform legislation and other first-year accomplishments, though White House aides told The Associated Press Trump will "set aside his more combative tone for one of compromise." For many GOP lawmakers, hopes for the night are subdued. "I hope the speech is uneventful in a good way," said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.). "Last year, he addressed Congress and that speech was reasonably measured. I hope that is what happens again." Trump's talk before a joint session of Congress last year was not officially considered a SOTU.

2

Kabul attack death toll tops 100

More than 100 people were killed and another 235 injured Saturday by Taliban suicide bombers who detonated two ambulances full of explosives in a busy neighborhood of Kabul, Afghanistan. President Trump condemned the attack in a tweet Saturday evening. "Taliban targeted innocent Afghans, brave police in Kabul today," he wrote. "Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims, and first responders. We will not allow the Taliban to win!" A Taliban representative said the terrorist group's message for "Trump and his hand kissers" is "if you go ahead with a policy of aggression and speak from the barrel of a gun, don't expect Afghans to grow flowers in response."

3

Democrats' SOTU response to be given by Rep. Joe Kennedy

The Democratic rebuttal to President Trump's State of the Union address will be given by Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.). "From health care to economic justice to civil rights, the Democratic agenda stands in powerful contrast to President Trump’s broken promises to American families," he said in a statement anticipating his address. "Our vision for this union is guided by a simple belief that equality and economic dignity should be afforded to every American." Though he hails from one of America's most famous political families, Kennedy is relatively unknown on the national stage.

4

Trump says Democrats' goal is obstruction, not DACA

In a pair of tweets late Saturday, President Trump accused congressional Democrats of using the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for malicious partisan purposes. Trump said he has "offered DACA a wonderful deal" partly to "show that Democrats do not want to solve DACA, only use it!" In the second tweet, Trump said "Democrats are not interested in Border Safety & Security or in the funding and rebuilding of our Military. They are only interested in Obstruction!" Recent comments from White House staff indicated Trump wishes to use DACA as a negotiating tool for border security measures.

5

Trump says he would be 'tougher' in Brexit talks

President Trump claimed in a televised interview set to air Sunday in the United Kingdom he would be "tougher" than British Prime Minister Theresa May were he responsible for Brexit negotiations to leave the European Union. "Would it be the way I'd negotiate? No, I wouldn't negotiate it the way it's negotiated," he said in a preview clip. "I would have said that the European Union is not cracked up to what it's supposed to be and I would have taken a tougher stand in getting out." These comments come after the two leaders appeared together at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, touting the strength of U.S.-U.K. relations.

6

Turkey says U.S. agreed to stop arming Kurds in Syria

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told Turkey the United States will no longer arm Kurdish YPG militia fighters in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed Saturday. Erdogan's government considers the YPG terrorists because of their links to Kurdish rebels in Turkey, but Washington has long considered the Kurds valuable local allies in the war on terror, leading to tension between the two NATO states. President Trump promised to stop arming the Kurds in Syria in November, but he did not say when that change would occur.

7

Wynn resigns as RNC finance chair

Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas casino mogul accused Friday of a "decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct," resigned from his role as Republican National Committee finance chair on Saturday. Wynn has contributed to many GOP campaigns, and those candidates along with the RNC are being urged to return or donate his funding. Democrats seized this opportunity to brand Republicans the party of misogyny, comparing Wynn to disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, whose support Democratic politicians returned after misconduct allegations were leveled against him. Wynn has denied all accusations, labeling them "preposterous."

8

Rubio fires chief of staff over 'improper conduct'

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Saturday announced he has fired his chief of staff after receiving "sufficient evidence" to conclude the staffer has "violated office policies regarding proper relations between a supervisor and their subordinates." Rubio said he learned of "allegations of improper conduct" by the chief of staff for the first time Friday, and he flew from Florida to Washington to address the issue in person. The conduct, Rubio concluded, "led to actions which in my judgment amounted to threats to withhold employment benefits." The statement did not name any parties involved.

9

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad dies at 91

Ingvar Kamprad, the billionaire founder of Swedish furniture giant Ikea, died at his home in Smaland, Sweden, on Saturday, the company announced Sunday. He was 91. Kamprad started Ikea in 1943 at age 17, but it wasn't until 1956 that he hit upon the store's trademark flat-packing system to cut costs by reducing transit space. "Ingvar Kamprad was a great entrepreneur of the typical southern Swedish kind," said a statement from Ikea, "hardworking and stubborn, with a lot of warmth and a playful twinkle in his eye."

10

Federer wins 20th Grand Slam

Swiss tennis champion Roger Federer won the Australian Open on Sunday, becoming the first male player to take 20 Grand Slam titles in singles play. Federer's final match in the tournament paired him with Croatia's Marin Cilic, a contest Federer won 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. "I'm so happy. It's unbelievable," Federer said after the match. "Of course, winning is an absolute dream come true — the fairytale continues for us, for me, after the great year I had last year. It's incredible." This is his third victory in the last five Australian Opens.

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