Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 2, 2018

Trump decides not to block the release of the GOP's secret memo, Romney schedules announcement on expected Senate bid, and more

1

Trump clears way for House Republicans to release controversial memo

President Trump on Thursday signed off on the release of a controversial secret memo by Republican congressional staffers accusing the FBI of partisan abuse of its surveillance powers at the start of the Russian election-meddling investigation. Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee approved making the document public, and Trump had a five-day window to block it. Democrats say the memo is misleading and reveals national security secrets. FBI Director Christopher Wray also argued against making it public, saying he had "grave concerns" about the memo's accuracy. Some White House officials worry he might resign over the issue. The House Intelligence Committee is expected to get the memo back from Trump on Friday.

2

Mitt Romney says he will make Senate race announcement on Feb. 15

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney tweeted Thursday that he would be "making an announcement on Feb. 15 about the Utah Senate race." The former Massachusetts governor is expected to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who has announced that he is retiring. Romney will be considered an instant favorite if he launches a bid. He has many fans in the Senate, but has clashed openly with President Trump, whom he urged Republicans to reject during the 2016 campaign. The tensions eased when Trump invited him to meet as he put together his Cabinet, but the detente quickly unraveled. In Trump's first year in office, Romney criticized him for his response to a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, for referring to Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries," and other actions.

3

7 board members resign after Humane Society keeps CEO despite sexual harassment complaints

The Humane Society of the United States decided Thursday not to push out CEO Wayne Pacelle over sexual harassment complaints against him, prompting seven of its 31 board members to quit in protest. The resignations came after a seven-hour meeting in which a law firm hired to investigate the allegations presented its findings. Major donors had told the Humane Society they would withdraw their support unless they cut ties with Pacelle. "I want the money that I donate to go toward helping animals," said Rachel Perman, director of charitable giving and engagement at Tofurky, a vegetarian food company that has donated $30,000 to the Humane Society in the last two years. Pacelle denied all of the allegations.

4

Trump urges lawmakers to schedule vote on immigration reform

In a speech to congressional Republicans on Thursday, President Trump encouraged his party to bring immigration reform to a vote. "We have a chance now to pass into law the immigration reforms that the American people have been demanding for decades," he said. Trump called an immigration bill "a great opportunity [for] the Republican Party." He also warned against referring to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, as "dreamers," saying, "Don't fall into that trap." The DREAMers moniker stems from a stalled immigration bill called the DREAM Act, which proposes a path to citizenship.

5

4 California students injured in apparently unintentional school shooting

Four students were injured in an apparent accidental shooting at Salvador Castro Middle School in Los Angeles on Thursday. "Someone decided to bring a gun, I guess someone was accidentally playing around with it," said a 12-year-old seventh-grader. A 15-year-old boy was in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the head, and was expected to recover. A 15-year-old girl was hit in the left wrist. An adult and two other children suffered minor injuries. Police booked a 12-year-old girl on suspicion of negligent discharge of a firearm. Investigators were looking into how the gun got into the classroom. "Los Angeles has a law about the safe storage of weapons," L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer said. "Every responsible gun owner needs to take heed."

6

UPenn cuts ties with Steve Wynn

The University of Pennsylvania on Thursday moved to remove the name of Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn from a plaza and scholarship fund, severing ties with the casino mogul over reports of sexual misconduct. The Ivy League school also revoked an honorary degree from Wynn. The action came after The Wall Street Journal reported that women had complained about "a pattern of sexual misconduct" by Wynn in the workplace. The newspaper also reported that a $7.5 million settlement was paid to a manicurist who accused Wynn of pressuring her into sex in 2005. A group of trustees, alumni, and staff investigated the matter and unanimously recommended severing ties with Wynn, who has denied the allegations but resigned as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. The University of Iowa announced Wednesday it was removing Wynn's name from its Institute for Vision Research.

7

Cape Town imposes new water-use limits as supply nears 'Day Zero'

Authorities in Cape Town, South Africa, on Thursday imposed new rules cutting daily limits on municipal water use to 13 gallons daily, down from the previous limit of 23 gallons. The tighter restrictions came as the city, the second most populous in the country, moved closer to "Day Zero," the point where Cape Town is expected to run out of water. Water levels are expected to hit bottom on April 16 if current trends continue. Cape Town has been suffering a drought — now the worst in a century — for three years. Residents are being warned they could face fines or the installation of water-management meters if they don't comply with the new limits.

8

Federal judge rules Florida process for restoring felons' voting rights unconstitutional

In a potentially landmark decision, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled Thursday that Florida's process for restoring felons' voting rights is unconstitutional. "In Florida, elected, partisan officials have extraordinary authority to grant or withhold the right to vote from hundreds of thousands of people without any constraints, guidelines, or standards," Walker wrote. Walker noted that at one hearing the governor said, "We can do whatever we want," and that some applicants' voting rights were restored after they expressed political views compatible with those of board members, while others were denied after they expressed contrary views. Florida's Division of Elections last week authorized putting an amendment on the November ballot asking voters whether most felons should have their voting rights restored automatically.

9

Girl sentenced to 40 years in mental hospital for 'Slender Man' stabbing

A Wisconsin judge on Thursday ordered that a girl, Morgan Geyser, who stabbed a classmate in a bid to please the fictional horror character Slender Man, be committed to a mental hospital for 40 years. Judge Michael Bohren said the decision was necessary to protect the community, granting a prosecution request for the maximum penalty. "What we can't forget is this was an attempted murder," Bohren said. Geyser, now 15, was just 12 when she stabbed Payton Leutner. Geyser apologized to Leutner in court, bursting into tears. "I just want to let Bella and her family know that I'm sorry," she said, using a nickname for Leutner. "And I hope she's doing well."

10

Fidel Castro's eldest son commits suicide

Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, the eldest son of late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, committed suicide Thursday after months of treatment for depression, Cuban state-run media reported. He was 68. Castro Diaz-Balart, known as Fidelito or Little Fidel for his resemblance to his father, was continuing treatment as an outpatient after being released from a hospital. A multilingual nuclear scientist, he had the highest profile of Castro's children. He was born in 1949 during Castro's brief marriage to Mirta Diaz-Balart, a decade before the revolution that turned Cuba into a Cold War enemy of the U.S. Fidelito was a cousin of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, fiercely anti-communist Florida politicians, and he was the subject of a bitter custody battle as a child.

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