Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 17, 2018

Jeff Sessions fires Andrew McCabe, Trump celebrates McCabe firing as a 'great day for Democracy,' and more

1

Jeff Sessions fires Andrew McCabe

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired from the Justice Department Friday, two days before he was set to retire and receive his pension. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he dismissed McCabe "effective immediately," saying McCabe "lacked candor." President Trump has repeatedly targeted McCabe for criticism over his wife's Democratic congressional run, alleging corrupt campaign practices linked to McCabe's position. Sessions' statement also accused McCabe of making an "unauthorized disclosure to the media," an accusation detailed in a yet-to-be released report that allegedly says McCabe hid a conversation he arranged between FBI officials and The Wall Street Journal.

2

Trump celebrates McCabe firing as a 'great day for Democracy'

President Trump rejoiced on Twitter Friday night after news broke of the firing of the former FBI deputy director. "Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI," Trump wrote. "A great day for Democracy," he continued, adding a swipe at fired FBI Director James Comey. McCabe, meanwhile, issued a statement slamming the "false, defamatory, and degrading" allegations to which he has been subject. His firing is "part of this Administration's ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of [Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia] investigation," McCabe said, as well as evidence of the investigation's necessity.

3

Kelly promises no more staff changes

After the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and amid reports National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster may not be long in his role, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Friday assured the West Wing no more dismissals are presently planned. "The chief of staff actually spoke to a number of staff this morning, reassuring them that there were no immediate personnel changes at this time and that people shouldn't be concerned," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Kelly himself is rumored to be a possible target of a future firing, and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired later Friday.

4

Russia expels British diplomats over poison accusation

Moscow on Saturday announced 23 British diplomats have one week to leave Russia, a retaliation for the United Kingdom's decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats and cut off high-level communications with Russia earlier this week. The first expulsion came in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter who now live in England. The U.S., U.K., France, and Germany have blamed the nerve gas attack on Moscow, which denies the accusation. Russia's Saturday announcement also said the British Council in Russia, a cultural liaison, and the British Consulate in St. Petersburg will be shut down.

5

Engineer reported Florida bridge cracks before deadly collapse

The engineer who oversaw construction of the footbridge that collapsed in Florida Thursday, killing multiple people, left a voicemail with the state Transportation Department two days prior reporting cracks in the structure. The employee the engineer called was out of the office and thus did not hear the message until Friday. However, it is not clear that the tragedy would have been prevented even if the voicemail were received more quickly: The engineer said the cracking would be repaired but did not pose a problem from a "safety perspective." The specific cause of the collapse remains unknown.

6

Trump attorneys push to move Stormy Daniels suit to federal court

Lawyers representing President Trump in the suit brought by adult film star Stormy Daniels on Friday filed motions asking to move the case to federal court. The switch may be intended to get the suit into arbitration to maintain a lower public profile. Daniels is suing to be released from a non-disclosure agreement she signed with Trump attorney Michael Cohen shortly before the 2016 election, a deal intended to buy her silence about an affair she claims to have had with Trump. The Trump team's Friday filing claims Daniels violated the NDA 20 times and could be liable for $20 million in damages.

7

Facebook suspends Trump campaign data firm

Facebook on Friday suspended political data firm Cambridge Analytica from its network, accusing the company of violating the platform's privacy policies. Cambridge Analytica worked with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election, using "behavioral microtargeting" for digital ad campaigns. In a blog post explaining the decision, Facebook said the firm lied about deleting user data it obtained in violation of the social network's rules. "We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people's information," the statement said. "We will take legal action if necessary."

8

New York Rep. Louise Slaughter dead at 88

New York Rep. Louise Slaughter (D) has died after being hospitalized with a concussion earlier this week following a fall at her home in Washington, D.C., her office confirmed Friday. At 88, she was the oldest member of the House of Representatives. She was one of the longest-serving members as well as ranking member of the House Rules Committee. Slaughter had planned to run for re-election this fall for what would have been her 17th term. "This is stunning news," tweeted Politico reporter Jake Sherman. "Louise Slaughter was one of the sharpest, funniest, and nicest women in Congress."

9

U.S. Special Operations helicopter crash in Iraq kills 7

A U.S. Special Operations helicopter crashed in western Iraq Thursday, killing all seven service members on board. The HH-60 Pave Hawk, which is similar to a Black Hawk helicopter, was ferrying troops when it reportedly hit a power line. Although the cause of the crash has not been officially determined, one person familiar with the situation said "there [were] no signs of hostile fire." Special Operations forces typically assist Iraqi-led missions against the Islamic State.

10

Underdog UMBC pulls off historic NCAA upset against Virginia

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County Retrievers pulled off a historic upset win against the top-seeded University of Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament Friday night. UMBC's 74-54 win is the first time a No. 16 seed has bested a No. 1 team in the championship's history. "It's a very surreal moment," said UMBC guard Jairus Lyles, who scored 28 points in Friday's game. UMBC next faces No. 9 Kansas State on Sunday for a shot at the Sweet 16.

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