Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 18, 2018

McCabe gave Mueller memos and interview, Trump lawyer says Mueller's probe should end, and more

1

McCabe gave Mueller memos and interview

Fired Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe created memos documenting his conversations with President Trump and former FBI Director James Comey, The Associated Press reports. He has given the files to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and has also granted Mueller an interview about the circumstances surrounding Comey's ouster last year. Comey also made private memos detailing his interactions with Trump and leaked them to the media via a friend. Axios reports the McCabe memos corroborate Comey's account of his own firing. In a tweet Sunday morning, Trump said McCabe "never took notes when he was with me." He added, "I don't believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them Fake Memos?"

2

Trump lawyer says Mueller probe should end

President Trump's personal attorney, John Dowd, said Saturday it is time for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian election meddling to end. "I pray that Acting Attorney General [Rod] Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by [fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe's boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier," Dowd wrote in a statement to The Daily Beast. Dowd first stated he was speaking on the president's behalf, but then reversed himself, saying he was only giving his personal view.

3

Trump says Mueller probe 'should never have been started'

"The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime," President Trump said in one of a series of tweets on the subject Saturday evening and Sunday morning. He also reiterated his accusation of corruption against former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe; remade his case that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia inquiry is a "WITCH HUNT" and investigators instead should probe the FBI, the State Department, and Hillary Clinton; and questioned the Mueller team's partisan composition.

4

Trump data firm linked to Russian oil company, Facebook data breach

Cambridge Analytica, the data firm suspended by Facebook Friday, was in contact with Lukoil, a Russian oil company, in 2014 and 2015, The New York Times reported Saturday. When questioned last month, the head of the firm's British parent company denied knowledge of any business ties to Russia. Also Saturday, The Observer of London reported the company harvested 50 million American Facebook profiles. "We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people's profiles and built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons," said former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie. "That was the basis the entire company was built on." Cambridge Analytica was a Trump campaign contractor in 2016.

5

Putin expected to secure easy re-election victory

Russian President Vladimir Putin faces seven challengers as voters go to the polls Sunday, but he is expected to easily win a fourth term for another six years in office. Advance polling suggests Putin boasts about 70 percent support, though critics say Russian elections are a pseudo-democratic exercise with a predetermined outcome. Apathetic voters are under increased pressure to turn out this year, with some employers asking workers to provide proof that they voted. The mayor of the city of Yekaterinburg told The Associated Press officials "received orders 'from higher up' to make sure the presidential vote turnout is over 60 percent."

6

North Korean diplomat visits Finland for talks

North Korean diplomat Choe Kang Il traveled to Finland Sunday for negotiations with American and South Korean representatives, notably including former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens. The talks are seen as a preliminary step toward the direct meeting President Trump has said he will have with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this spring. The South Korean foreign ministry compared the Finland negotiations to the indirect and secretive "Track 2" dialogue Pyongyang maintains with Washington. Choe declined to comment on his agenda.

7

Turkish-led forces oust Kurds from Afrin, Syria

Turkish troops and their Free Syrian Army allies on Sunday declared victory over Kurdish YPG militia fighters in the northern Syrian city of Afrin. "Most of the terrorists have already fled with tails between their legs," said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, though enclaves of Kurdish fighters remain outside the city center. Turkey's war on the Kurds creates tension with Washington, which is allied with both sides. The YPG joined the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State, but Ankara, a NATO ally, considers the Kurds terrorists because of their links to Kurdish rebels in Turkey.

8

Remains of all 6 Florida bridge collapse victims recovered

After three days of work to clear tons of rubble from the pedestrian bridge that collapsed in Miami, Florida, on Thursday, officials said Saturday night they have finally recovered the remains of all six victims. "We believe that we've recovered the final two individuals, final two victims, from underneath the bridge," said Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez. "Although we expected that perhaps we may find more [than six], thankfully, we did not," he added. "We are pretty confident that no one is left." The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the cause of the collapse.

9

Single $457 million Powerball ticket sold in Pennsylvania

A single winning Powerball ticket scored the entire $457 million jackpot in Pennsylvania on Saturday, a prize with a cash value of about $274 million. The prize is "the 8th largest jackpot in Powerball game history," said a statement from the lottery, and the odds of the win were one in 292 million. Three other tickets sold matched the five main winning numbers but did not match the Powerball. The winner, who has not yet been identified, will be able to choose between a lump sum payment or a 29-year annuity.

10

Bill Hader, John Goodman visit SNL as fired White House staff

Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader hosted this week's show, and he was joined in the cold open by frequent SNL host John Goodman. On the set with Anderson Cooper (Alex Moffat), Hader's former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci and Goodman's fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson commiserated about the chaos in the Trump administration. "It's just crazy how one day you're the CEO of Exxon, a 50-billion dollar company," said Goodman's Tillerson, "and the next you get fired by a man who used to sell steaks in the mail."

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