Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 6, 2018

Paul Ryan urges Trump to drop proposed tariffs, former Trump aide Sam Nunberg threatens to defy Mueller subpoena, and more


Ryan splits with Trump over tariffs

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) publicly split with President Trump on Monday, saying Trump's proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum could spark a trade war that would hurt the U.S. "We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan," a Ryan spokeswoman said in a statement. "The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don't want to jeopardize those gains." Trump has not given any indication that he would be willing to back away from his proposal, other than to say that the only way for Canada and Mexico to get out of having to pay the tariffs was to agree to a new "fair" multilateral trade deal in talks to alter the North America Free Trade Agreement.


Ex-Trump aide vows to defy Mueller subpoena, then backtracks

Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg said Monday that he would defy a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Nunberg later appeared to backtrack, suggesting he might show up to testify Friday, after all, and give investigators his password so they can get emails they seek. He had told The Washington Post he was refusing to go because Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office made an unreasonably broad request for emails exchanged with numerous Trump aides, including outgoing White House communications director Hope Hicks, former White House strategist Stephen Bannon, and adviser Roger Stone, whom Nunberg describes as a mentor. Nunberg later told MSNBC's Katy Tur that Mueller's team might have something on President Trump, adding, "I think he may have done something during the election, but I don't know that for sure."


South Korea: North Korea willing to discuss giving up its nukes

South Korean officials said Tuesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told South Korean envoys he was willing to negotiate with the U.S. on giving up his country's nuclear weapons, and would suspend nuclear and missile tests during the talks. During a Monday meeting in Pyongyang, the two sides also agreed on a summit meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in for late April. "The North Korean side clearly stated its willingness to denuclearize," the statement said. "It made it clear that it would have no reason to keep nuclear weapons if the military threat to the North was eliminated and its security guaranteed." There was no immediate corroboration on the unprecedented offer from Pyongyang.


Showdown appears to end with Trump name coming off Panama hotel

Workers pried the Trump name off the sign in front of the Trump International Hotel in Panama on Monday, after the building's owner said he had won a battle with the president's family company over control of the property. The majority owner, Cypriot businessman Orestes Fintiklis, has been locked in a 10-day standoff with the Trump Organization, which has a management contract through 2031. Fintiklis sought to fire the organization, saying he blames it and the Trump brand for low revenue. Police showed up at the hotel several times during the clash, which included shoving matches and a power outage. Trump Organization executives said they would keep fighting to win control over the hotel, the company's only property in Latin America.


Trump and Netanyahu meet in the White House

President Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Monday to discuss a host of contentious Middle East issues, including Jerusalem, Iran, and reviving peace efforts with the Palestinians. After the discussion, the two leaders presented a united front, with Trump saying he might travel to Jerusalem for the official opening of the new U.S. Embassy he ordered to be set up in the Holy City, after he ordered it moved from Tel Aviv. Trump's comments amounted to a key show of support for Netanyahu, who is battling corruption allegations back home.


Florida's Senate passes package of gun-control measures

Florida's Republican-controlled Senate voted Monday to exclude most teachers from a proposal to let school staff carry guns as part of the state's response to the school shooting that left 17 people dead in Parkland, Florida, last month. Many parents, legislators from both parties, and the state's Republican governor, Rick Scott, opposed arming teachers. The state Senate measure also would raise the legal age for buying any gun to 21. This was already the minimum age for handgun purchases, but not rifles, which can be purchased at age 18. The Senate legislation also would impose a three-day waiting period for gun purchases. The state House is expected to consider the bill Tuesday.


Trump's DACA deadline passes with no decisive action

President Trump's March 5 deadline for phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program elapsed Monday with no resolution. DACA, which provides protections for young immigrants brought into America illegally as children, was supposed to terminate Monday after Trump announced he would end the program in September, but a number of court rulings have blocked Trump from ending the program. Trump has blamed Democrats for having "totally forgotten about DACA," and the national policy director for the ACLU, Faiz Shakir, expressed his own frustrations with Congress to NPR. "There's a concern that the March 5 deadline could die with a whimper rather than a bang," he said.


Former Russian spy ill after exposure to unidentified substance

A former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, fell critically ill on Monday after being exposed to an unidentified substance in the U.K. Skripal, 66, served as a colonel in Russia's GRU military intelligence service, but was convicted of treason in 2006 for betraying Russian agents to British intelligence. He got out of the country, however, in a 2010 spy swap. British authorities would not identify a man and a woman found critically ill in a park, but two sources told Reuters the man was Skripal. "This has not been declared as a counter-terrorism incident and we would urge people not to speculate," Wiltshire police's Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden said.


Judge orders Martin Shkreli to forfeit $7.4 million

Judge Kyo Matsumoto ruled Monday that former drug company leader Martin Shkreli will have to forfeit $7.4 million to the federal government under his upcoming criminal sentence on a fraud conviction. Shkreli was reported last year to be cash-broke, so the judge ordered him to forfeit his stake in several "substitute" assets, including a $5 million E-Trade brokerage account, the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, and a painting by Pablo Picasso. He also will have to give up his stake in the drug company Vyera Pharmaceuticals. Shkreli became notorious while leading Vyera, formerly known as Turing Pharmaceuticals, by raising the price on a life-saving drug for AIDS patients by 5,000 percent in 2015.


GOP Sen. Thad Cochran to resign

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran (R) announced Monday that he will resign, citing health concerns. He will leave the Senate on April 1. "I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge," said Cochran, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle." Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) will appoint a replacement to fill Cochran's seat until a special election later this year. Mississippi's other senator, Roger Wicker (R), is also up for re-election this fall.


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