Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 7, 2018

President Trump's top economic adviser resigns, the Justice Department sues California over sanctuary laws, and more


Top Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn resigns after losing tariff debate

President Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, is resigning after days of controversy over Trump's unexpected announcement that he would impose stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, White House officials said Tuesday. Cohn and other free-trade advocates, including leading Republican lawmakers, have urged against the tariffs, which have prompted threats of retaliatory import taxes by European officials. Trump thanked Cohn, the latest in a parade of administration officials to leave, for his "dedicated service to the American people," according to a statement to The New York Times. "Gary has been my chief economic adviser and did a superb job in driving our agenda, helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms, and unleashing the American economy once again," Trump said.


Trump administration sues California over sanctuary laws

The Trump administration on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against California over three sanctuary laws the state legislature passed last year to protect undocumented immigrants, which the Justice Department said would obstruct federal immigration law and violate the Constitution's supremacy clause. The lawsuit marks an escalation in the administration's battle with California over immigration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will speak to the California Peace Officers Association on Wednesday, and in remarks released in advance he says the Justice Department and the "Trump administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair, and unconstitutional policies that are imposed on you." California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called the lawsuit a "political stunt."


Stormy Daniels sues Trump, calling 'hush agreement' invalid

Adult film star Stormy Daniels filed a lawsuit Tuesday against President Trump, claiming that the deal she made not to disclose details of her alleged relationship with Trump is invalid because Trump never signed it, although Daniels and Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, did. The suit alleges that Daniels had an intimate relationship with Trump from the summer of 2006 "well into the year 2007." The "hush agreement" refers to Trump as David Dennison, and Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, as Peggy Peterson. It promised $130,000 in exchange for her silence about the relationship, and had blanks for each person's signature, but Dennison, whom Daniels' lawyer identified as Trump, never signed. The suit also alleges that Cohen has tried to intimidate Daniels.


Texas primaries set up Beto O'Rourke challenge against Ted Cruz

Texans voted in primaries on Tuesday, setting up a November contest between Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke. No Democrat has won a statewide election in Texas since 1994, but Democrats' hopes were buoyed by a big surge in Democratic turnout. O'Rourke also has had success with fundraising, and risen in polls in step with a drop in popularity for Cruz and President Trump. "It's been true that the only thing you've had to do to take office in Texas is to get the Republican nomination and avoid getting hit by a bus before Election Day," said Harold Cook, an Austin-based Democratic operative. "But this is going to be different — Ted Cruz is going to have to run a real race."


Nashville mayor resigns in plea deal tied to sex scandal

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry resigned on Tuesday after admitting to an affair with the head of her security detail. Barry, who is married, had said she would stay in office, but agreed to step down as party of a deal to plead guilty on a charge of theft of property worth more than $10,000. She also will reimburse the city $11,000 and serve three years' probation. The allegation stemmed from evidence that Barry and the security chief, Robert Forrest, engaged in the affair at times while he was on duty and being paid. Barry is a business-friendly, socially-progressive Democrat once considered a rising star in the party. She tweeted that serving as the city's mayor has been "the privilege of my entire professional life."


West Virginia lawmakers approve pay raise to end teacher strike

West Virginia lawmakers said Tuesday they had reached a deal to give the state's public school teachers, and all state employees, a 5 percent pay raise. The agreement was meant to get teachers to end their nine-day strike, which has kept all of the state's public schools closed. Teachers' union representative Christine Campbell said she expected classes to resume on Wednesday as long as the bill was passed by legislators. The state House had approved the 5 percent raise teachers sought, but the Senate had approved only a 4 percent pay hike. "It took a lot of pulling for everyone to get there," Gov. Jim Justice (R) said. "But we're there."


Government watchdog finds Kellyanne Conway broke ethics rule

The Office of Special Counsel, a federal ethics agency unrelated to Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, has ruled that Kellyanne Conway, an aide to President Trump, and his 2016 campaign manager, twice violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from using their position for partisan politics. Conway last year spoke to Fox News and CNN in front of the White House and attacked Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat who was running against controversial former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore for Attorney General Jeff Sessions' former Senate seat. Conway said Jones would "vote against the tax cuts," and that he was "weak" on crime and borders. It is up to Trump to decide what to do about the report. The White House said Conway did nothing wrong.


U.S. sanctions North Korea over nerve-agent assassination

The State Department announced new sanctions against North Korea for ordering last year's assassination of leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother with a banned nerve agent. The move came on the same day that South Korea said Pyongyang was willing to talk to the U.S. about abandoning its controversial nuclear weapons program. President Trump called the news of North Korea's willingness to talk "very positive," and said he was also open to talks. He and other administration officials said it would take concrete actions by North Korea to resolve the crisis. "They seem to be acting positively," Trump said. "We're going to see."


U.S. concludes deadly Niger mission lacked approval

The U.S. military has wrapped up its investigation into the Oct. 4 raid in Niger that ended with four U.S. service members and four Nigerien troops dead after an ambush by Islamic State-linked fighters. The investigation found that the Army Special Forces team did not have the required approval for the mission from senior commanders in Chad or Germany, meaning U.S. commanders could not accurately assess its risk, several U.S. officials tell The Associated Press. The report will not identify a single point of failure in the mission, and it doesn't blame the mission's failure on the lack of authorization, the officials say.


Tony Award winner Ruthie Ann Miles injured, 4-year-old daughter killed by car

Tony Award winner Ruthie Ann Miles was injured and her 4-year-old daughter Abigail was killed when they were struck by a car in Brooklyn on Monday. The driver, who allegedly ran a red light, said she had a seizure and didn't remember the crash. Miles, whose real name is Ruthie Ann Blumstein, was with a friend whose 1-year-old son also was killed. A 46-year-old man was also hit by the car. Miles, who is pregnant, remained in a hospital in stable condition on Tuesday. Miles won a Tony for her performance in the 2015 Broadway revival of The King and I. Fellow Broadway stars offered condolences on Tuesday. "Heartsick for Ruthie and her family," tweeted Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda.


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