Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 27, 2018

Trump confirms his plan to ban bump stocks, the Supreme Court declines to consider lifting DACA injunctions, and more


Trump confirms plan to ban bump stocks in meeting with governors

President Trump confirmed to state governors during a Monday meeting that he plans to ban bump stocks, accessories that modify semiautomatic rifles to fire faster, like fully automatic weapons. "I don't care if Congress does it or not, I'm writing it out myself," Trump said. Bump stocks were used in the massacre of 58 people in Las Vegas last year, but not in this month's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and teachers were killed. Trump also reiterated his plan to arm schoolteachers, and urged governors not to be "afraid of the NRA." Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) pushed back, saying, "I just suggest we need a little less tweeting here and a little more listening."


Supreme Court declines to consider request to lift DACA injunctions

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider a White House request to overturn lower court rulings temporarily blocking President Trump's order to dismantle an Obama-era program protecting some young immigrants from deportation. Trump ordered an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, but federal district courts in New York and California said the protections for 700,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children should remain in place until court challenges are settled. The Supreme Court's decision to stay out of the matter means the young immigrants, known as "DREAMers," will remain in limbo but safe from deportation until the court cases are resolved or Congress acts to restore the protections, which Trump had ordered to expire on March 5.


Russia to broker temporary truce in Syria's Eastern Ghouta

Russia said that it would help broker a temporary "truce" in Syria's rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region, where more than 500 people have been killed in a week-long bombardment by government forces. Russia proposed a five-hour daily truce, and an "evacuation corridor" to allow remaining civilians in the area to escape the shelling. The move by Moscow followed a unanimous vote by the U.N. Security Council to approve a cease-fire resolution Saturday. Syrian government forces continued their airstrikes after the vote, however, killing at least 22 people on Sunday.


Trump says he would have run into school building to stop shooting

President Trump said Monday that he would have rushed into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, during the mass shooting that killed 17 people, "even if I didn't have a weapon." Trump said it was "disgusting" that the Broward County sheriff's deputy assigned to the school, Scot Peterson, didn't go into the building during the attack. Peterson quit after the incident but his attorney said his client had not acted in an unprofessional or cowardly manner. The lawyer, Joseph DiRuzzo, said Peterson did not go inside during the shooting because it sounded like the shots were coming from outside.


Supreme Court justices split on challenge over mandatory union fees

The Supreme Court's liberal and conservative wings clashed Monday over mandatory union fees for non-members covered under collective bargaining agreements. Under a 1977 ruling, states can let public-sector unions demand fees from non-members, as long as the money goes to representing workers and not political activities. Mark Janus, an Illinois government employee backed by conservative groups, says the policy forces him to support union political causes he opposes. "When you compel somebody to speak, don't you infringe that person's dignity," said conservative Justice Samuel Alito. "You're basically arguing: Do away with unions," liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was appointed by President Trump and is expected to give conservatives the deciding vote to end the fees, was silent during the arguments.


Education Department investigates Michigan State's handling of Nassar abuse cases

The Education Department said Monday that it is investigating Michigan State University's handling of sexual assault allegations against Larry Nassar, a former gymnastics team doctor who has been sentenced to decades in prison for molesting patients and possessing child pornography. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called Nassar's crimes "unimaginable," and said investigators would examine "systemic issues" about how Michigan State responded to complaints about him. DeVos said the university's acting president, John Engler, had ordered employees to cooperate fully. Nassar also served as a team doctor for USA Gymnastics, which also faces scrutiny over its handling of reports of Nassar's abuse of young athletes.


Georgia conservatives threaten to block Delta tax cut over NRA snub

Republicans in Georgia's Senate on Monday threatened to kill a tax break for Delta Air Lines over its decision to end a partnership that offered flight discounts to members of the National Rifle Association. The state House had already approved the tax bill, which could result in a $40 million benefit for Delta. State Sen. Rick Jeffares (R) said stripping the tax break would "let Delta know their attack on the NRA and our 2nd Amendment is unacceptable." Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) vowed to block any tax break for Delta, which is headquartered in Atlanta, unless the airline restores the NRA discount. Numerous companies have cut ties with the NRA since the Florida school shooting. FedEx said Monday it would resist pressure to do so.


Melania Trump praises students for speaking out after school shooting

First lady Melania Trump praised students who have launched a demand for gun control legislation in response to the Florida school shooting that left 17 dead. "I have been heartened to see children across this country using their voices to speak out and try to create change," she said at a White House luncheon she hosted for the spouses of U.S. governors. "They are our future and they deserve a voice." Her comments contradicted claims by some right-wing critics who have sought to discredit the young activists with conspiracy theories calling them "crisis actors" or stooges of anti-gun liberals. President Trump last week hosted students and parents at the White House and proposed making schools safer by arming teachers, an idea panned by critics.


Trump aide Hope Hicks to testify to House panel investigating Russia

White House communications director Hope Hicks is expected to testify privately before the House Intelligence Committee early Tuesday as part of the inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Hicks has been close to President Trump for years, and she will likely be asked about the campaign, transition, and the last year in the White House. Several other Trump associates, including former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, have refused to answer questions posed by the committee. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, said it was unclear whether Hicks would answer questions or "stonewall."


Melania Trump drops adviser after backlash over inaugural contract

Melania Trump's office said Monday that the first lady has ended a contract for services from adviser and friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, following news that Wolkoff's firm received $26 million for helping plan President Trump's inauguration. The contract was terminated last week, The New York Times reported, citing two people with direct knowledge of the situation. The Trumps reportedly were not happy about the big payment to Wolkoff's firm, WIS Media Partners, by the nonprofit group that handled the inauguration. President Trump reportedly was "enraged" that a friend Wolkoff brought in to help plan events, David Monn, received $3.7 million. Wolkoff said she expects to "remain a trusted source for advice and support on an informal basis."


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