10 things you need to know today: February 24, 2018
Mueller reveals new charges against Manafort after Gates pleads guilty, Trump administration hits North Korea with new sanctions, and more
Mueller reveals new charges against Manafort after Gates pleads guilty
Rick Gates, a former adviser to President Trump's 2016 campaign, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy and lying to the FBI, charges brought against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Sentencing guidelines put Gates in range for a prison term of 57 to 71 months, though that could shorten based on his cooperation in the investigation. Mueller's office on Thursday filed 32 new charges against Gates and Trump's former campaign chair, Paul Manafort. They were previously indicted on 12 counts of financial crimes in October. Gates' guilty plea led to Mueller's team releasing a superseding indictment for Manafort Friday. It details additional charges, The Associated Press reports, including that Manafort "secretly [paid] European politicians to lobby on behalf of Ukraine."
Trump administration hits North Korea with new sanctions
The Trump administration announced a new set of sanctions against North Korea Friday. The targets — 27 entities, 28 vessels, and one individual accused of shipping goods illegally to North Korea and helping further leader Kim Jong Un's nuclear program — will be prohibited from doing business with people in the United States. The Treasury Department called the actions "the largest North Korea-related sanctions tranche to date." Unnamed senior American officials told Reuters the administration may deploy U.S. Coast Guard vessels in partnership with countries including Japan, South Korea, and Australia to enforce the sanctions by searching suspect ships.
Trump goes off-script at CPAC
Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), President Trump reiterated his "love" of the Second Amendment and doubled down on his controversial proposal to arm schoolteachers. Addressing reports that the armed guard at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School didn't engage the shooter as last week's attack was unfolding, Trump claimed that an armed teacher "would have shot the hell out of [the gunman] before he knew it." Trump also addressed topics including ObamaCare ("just being wiped out"), the Rust Belt since his election ("like a different world"), and his own speech as scripted ("a little boring").
Trump says Kelly will decide on Kushner's classified access
Chief of Staff John Kelly will make the decision about whether to revoke access to classified information for Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, the president said Friday. Trump praised his son-in-law as "a high-quality person" and expressed confidence in Kelly's judgment. Friday evening, The Washington Post reported Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the White House two weeks ago Kushner's background check had uncovered information requiring additional investigation. Kushner has so far resisted Kelly's move to limit his information access before clearance is granted.
U.S. to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem in May
The State Department confirmed Friday the United States will move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by May 14, which marks the 70th anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence. Last month, Vice President Mike Pence told Israeli lawmakers the move would occur by the end of 2019, but the schedule has accelerated. The new facility will reportedly operate as an "interim embassy" at the American consular annex in Jerusalem until the State Department decides on a permanent location. The move was first announced in December, sparking immediate pushback from Palestinians and their allies.
USDA solicits input on food stamp work requirements
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Friday began soliciting public input on restoring work requirements for food stamp recipients in high-unemployment areas where rules were waived in recent years. "USDA's goal is to move individuals and families [using food stamps] back to the workforce as the best long-term solution to poverty," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Able-bodied adults without dependents are eligible for only three months of food stamps unless they spend at least 80 hours per month working or at a qualified training. In part of 28 states and all of five, that rule is currently suspended.
Trump extends disaster funding for Puerto Rico
President Trump on Friday authorized an extension of the disaster declaration for Hurricane Maria recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. The island will receive 90 more days of federal funding for "debris removal" and 60 more days of funding for "emergency protective measures." This announcement amends Trump's previous disaster declaration, under which federal aid would have ended mid-March. Federal relief work post-Maria has been marred by bungled contracts, and almost half a year after the hurricane struck, 15 percent of the island remains without power.
Florida lawmakers propose raising gun purchase age
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and state legislators on Friday announced a plan to raise the age to purchase firearms in the Sunshine State from 18 to 21. Military members and law enforcement would be granted an exemption. Scott also endorsed new limits on gun access based on personal history. "I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who is a danger to themselves or others to use a gun," he said. Survivors of last week's school shooting in Parkland, Florida, said the plan is "a start," but does not go far enough.
Rains exacerbate deadly Midwest flooding
Heavy rains over the weekend are expected to exacerbate deadly flooding in the Midwest and southern Plains regions. Hundreds of people have evacuated their homes in affected areas from eastern Texas through southern Indiana, and at least three people, including one child, have been killed in connection to the floods. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) has declared a 30-day state of emergency, and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has issued a disaster proclamation for three counties. The National Weather Service advises caution of flash floods and tornadoes throughout the weekend.
U.S. men's curling team takes 1st Olympic gold
The United States men's curling team took its first-ever gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on Saturday. After nearly being eliminated from the competition, the team made a comeback win, besting both the Canadian team — prior to this victory, no American team in men's or women's curling has ever beaten Canada at the Olympics — and the Swedish team, which was ranked first in the world. "During the entire end we could kind of feel it building," said team leader John Shuster of the gold-medal victory over Sweden. "Their margin for error got really small."