Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 30, 2018

House Republicans vote to release secret memo on Russia inquiry, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe resigns, and more


Republicans on House panel vote to release secret memo on Russia inquiry

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted Monday to release a secret memo that alleges misconduct by senior FBI officials involved in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The move came despite a Justice Department warning that releasing the memo would be "extraordinarily reckless." The document reportedly includes confidential information, and accuses officials at the FBI of misusing their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on President Trump's former campaign associate Carter Page. Democrats say the memo is misleading, and amounts to a dangerous attempt to undercut the Russia investigation. Trump now has five days to review the memo and decide whether to block its release.


FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe resigns

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is stepping down earlier than expected, after facing criticism from President Trump since the 2016 campaign, The Washington Post reported Monday. The Post reported in December that McCabe planned to retire in March. Trump had criticized McCabe over his wife's state Senate campaign, and some within the FBI said McCabe should have recused himself from the Hillary Clinton investigation because his wife's campaign received contributions from the political organization of then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton friend. McCabe reportedly is leaving his position immediately, using accrued vacation time to get him to the retirement date. There were reports McCabe was forced out, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump "wasn't part of this decision-making process."


Senate Democrats block bill seeking to ban abortions after 20 weeks

The Senate on Monday blocked a bill seeking to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The vote to advance the legislation fell short of the 60 votes needed to get past a filibuster by Democrats. Abortion rights advocates said the 20-week ban was arbitrary and dangerous, and the Supreme Court has ruled that states can't restrict access to abortions until about 23 or 24 weeks, when a fetus is viable outside the womb. President Trump, who backed the bill, urged the Senate to reconsider, but Republicans knew it wouldn't go anywhere. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and anti-abortion groups said the procedural vote would force all senators to "go on record on the issue" ahead of the midterm elections.


Another powerful House Republican announces he won't seek re-election

The GOP effort to keep control of Congress suffered another setback when Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) announced Monday he would not seek re-election. Frelinghuysen is the 40th Republican to announce plans to leave the House. As chairman of the powerful appropriations committee, he is among the most prominent to bow out ahead of what GOP strategists fear will be a painful fall election. "It's an attention grabber," said Thomas Reynolds, who ran the national campaign arm of House Republicans in 2004 and 2006. "Republicans will try to put some sort of a decent face on it but this was not good news for Republicans." President Trump is expected to use his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night to boost vulnerable Republicans by calling for bipartisan cooperation on immigration and other issues.


Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Chase partner to improve employee health-care

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced Tuesday that they are teaming up to form a new company focused on improving health-care options for their U.S. workers. The three companies said they would use their scale and joint expertise to help reduce costs and improve employee satisfaction in health plans, using an independent company that will be "free from profit-making incentives and constraints." The companies said they hope to use a fresh approach to solve longstanding problems. "The ballooning costs of health-care act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy," said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett. "Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable."


U.S. military considers rules to prevent fitness trackers from exposing secret bases

The U.S. military said Monday that it was changing rules on the use of wireless devices in war zones and other dangerous places following a report that soldiers were unwittingly providing the locations of secret bases by using GPS-equipped fitness trackers. A global heat map posted online by the fitness-tracking company Strava shows the precise locations and outlines of U.S. military bases in dangerous locations, including Afghanistan and Syria. The Strava data can even be used to identify individual users and their jogging routes in war zones. "We take these matters seriously, and we are reviewing the situation to determine if any additional training or guidance is required," said Army Col. Robert Manning III, a Pentagon spokesman.


CIA director warns Russia will try to influence fall election

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Russia will try to meddle in this fall's midterm elections in its ongoing effort to influence politics in the U.S. and other Western nations. "I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that," Pompeo said in a BBC interview that aired Tuesday. "But I am confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election." Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and possible collusion by associates of President Trump. Pompeo also warned that the U.S. and other countries should step up efforts to push back against China's efforts to "covertly influence the world."


Trump administration releases 'Putin list' to shame Russian politicians, oligarchs

The Trump administration late Monday released a list of 114 Russian politicians and 96 "oligarchs" who have benefited from President Vladimir Putin's rule, angering Moscow. The production of the "Putin list" fulfilled Congress' demand to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The Trump administration stopped short of imposing new sanctions against the politicians and business tycoons it named, and said the report was not "a sanctions list." The goal of the seven-page unclassified document reportedly was to "name and shame" people flourishing under Putin. Critics in Congress said the Trump administration showed it was unwilling to seriously confront Russia. "They've now shown us they won't act," said Rep. Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, "so it's time for Congress to do more."


Paris floods spread as Seine peaks

Floodwaters spread to Paris suburbs and other parts of France after peaking in the French capital on Monday. The Seine River has overflowed its banks in Paris and forced the evacuation of at least 1,500 people. "It's been a gradual rise, so you can't really call it a 'peak' — we prefer to say it has plateaued," said Rachel Puechberty, a spokesperson for the Vigicrues flooding agency. Meteorologists have warned that climate change could cause such extreme flooding to occur more frequently in Paris. Jerome Goellner, regional head of environmental services, said it could take weeks for water levels to fall back to normal. In the meantime, Paris resident Serge Matikhin said, "Everyone is getting around by boat."


Cleveland Indians to drop controversial Chief Wahoo logo

The Cleveland Indians plan to stop using their controversial Chief Wahoo uniform logo next year, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday. The change came after "constructive conversations" between the league and Indians top executives. "Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game," Manfred said in the statement. "The club ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball." Chief Wahoo, a caricature of a Native American, has been used by the club since the late 1940s. Indians chief executive and chairman Paul Dolan said he recognized that "many of our fans have a long-standing attachment to Chief Wahoo," but he agreed it was time for a change.


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