Daily briefing

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

Trump expels 60 Russian diplomats in response to spy poisoning, Stormy Daniels accuses Trump's lawyer of defamation, and more


Trump to expel 60 Russian diplomats in response to spy poisoning

The Trump administration on Monday announced that it is expelling 60 Russian diplomatic officials in response to Moscow's alleged involvement in the poisoning of a former Russian spy with a nerve agent in England. The White House said the Russians being expelled are spies. Fourteen European Union nations, including Poland, Italy, Denmark, France, and Germany, also announced that they would expel Russians in a show of solidarity with the U.K., which kicked out 23 Russian diplomats after the attack. Canada additionally said it would send home four Russians. The White House said the U.S. action would "make the United States safer by reducing Russia's ability to spy on Americans and to conduct covert operations that threaten America's national security." Russia denies involvement in the poisoning.


Stormy Daniels accuses Trump lawyer of defamation

Adult film star Stormy Daniels escalated her legal battle against President Trump on Monday, accusing his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, of defaming her by suggesting she was lying about having an affair with Trump 12 years ago. Daniels added Cohen as a defendant in her lawsuit against the president, one day after a 60 Minutes segment in which she detailed her alleged contact with Trump, including her claim that an anonymous man threatened her harm if she didn't keep quiet. The president "doesn't believe that any of the claims that Ms. Daniels made last night in her interview were accurate," White House spokesman Raj Shah said Monday.


2020 census to ask respondents if they are citizens

Late Monday, the Commerce Department said that at the request of the Justice Department, the 2020 U.S. census will include a question about citizenship for the first time since 1950. Critics, including experts in the Census Bureau, expressed concerns that asking respondents about citizenship would severely undercount the U.S. population, especially in areas with lots of non-citizen immigrants, and skew the drawing of state and federal voting districts in a way that unfairly advantages Republicans. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross dismissed those fears, saying the benefits outweigh the risks. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he will sue to overturn the decision.


GOP fundraiser sues Qatar over hacked emails

Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing Qatar of trying to discredit him by leaking emails in retaliation for his attempts to lobby the Trump administration in favor of Qatar's Persian Gulf rival, the United Arab Emirates. Broidy accuses Qatar of hacking into his email as well as his wife's, then leaking stolen material, some of it doctored, to media outlets. "We believe the evidence is clear that a nation state is waging a sophisticated disinformation campaign against me in order to silence me," Broidy said in a statement. The UAE and Saudi Arabia last year accused Qatar of financing extremists.


Wisconsin students hold 50-mile protest march against gun violence

About 40 Wisconsin high school students on Monday started their spring break by marching in support of gun control from the state capital of Madison toward Janesville, the hometown of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The group called their 50-mile trek "March for Our Lives: 50 Miles More." Organizers said the demonstration was a continuation of last weekend's rallies against gun violence in dozens of other cities across the country, spearheaded by survivors of the Feb. 14 Parkland, Florida, school massacre, which left 17 students and teachers dead. Ryan, who was out of the country, previously said that Republicans are not interested in banning any specific weapons, including the kind of semiautomatic assault-style rifle the Parkland attacker used.


White House investigating loans to Kushner family business

White House attorneys are reviewing two loans totaling more than $500 million to Jared Kushner's family business to determine whether they violated any criminal laws or ethics rules, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing a letter from a federal ethics agency. The Office of Government Ethics wrote to a Democratic lawmaker saying the White House is looking into a $184 million loan from the real estate arm of Apollo Global Management, and a $325 million loan from Citigroup. The loans went to the Kushner Cos., the family real estate business of Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior aide.


Exits were illegally locked during deadly Russian mall fire

As a fire spread through the Winter Cherry shopping mall in Kemerovo, Siberia, on Sunday, a security guard turned off the public address system and some people trying to escape couldn't open fire exits because they had been illegally blocked, Russian investigators announced Monday. Authorities said at least 64 people died in the blaze, which swept through the upper levels of the mall. Thirteen people remain hospitalized. The fire broke out near a movie theater and children's play area, and authorities are worried that dozens of kids are among the dead. This is the deadliest fire to take place in Russia since 2009.


Grandmother of slain Sacramento man calls for police reforms

The grandmother of Stephon Clark, the unarmed 22-year-old black man fatally shot by Sacramento police in his own backyard, called for changes in how the California city's officers confront suspects. She suggested using police dogs, Tasers, or non-lethal fire. Clark was hit with a hail of bullets fired by two officers who, body-cam video showed, appeared to genuinely believe the cellphone he was holding was a gun. "They didn't have to kill him like that, they didn't have to shoot him that many times," his grandmother, Sequita Thompson, said at a news conference. The NAACP has called for the officers to be criminally charged, although independent analysts said the genuine alarm perceived in the video suggests legal consequences are unlikely.


UConn advances to 11th straight women's Final Four

Connecticut crushed defending national champion South Carolina on Monday, 94-65, to advance to the Final Four of the NCAA women's basketball tournament for the 11th straight year. The Huskies (36-0) pulled away with unstoppable perimeter shooting, hitting 12 of 20 three-point shots. UConn will be playing for its 12th national title, and its fifth in six seasons. UConn plays Notre Dame in the national semifinals on Friday. Mississippi State, which ended UConn's 111-game winning streak with an overtime win in a 2017 Final Four game, plays Louisville in the other semifinal game. "I think we definitely have something to prove, not only to the rest of the world, but to ourselves as well," said UConn's Gabby Williams, who had 23 points.


Linda Brown, center of Brown v. Board of Education case, dies at 76

Linda Brown, who as a little girl was at the center of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that ended school segregation, has died in her hometown of Topeka, Kansas, her family and the Peaceful Rest Funeral Chapel said Monday. She was 76. Brown, who was African-American, was just 9 when her father tried to enroll her at an all-white elementary school. The school board said no, and her father took it to court. The case was combined with four similar cases and went to the Supreme Court, which ruled that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer said Brown's life showed that "by serving our community we can truly change the world."


ISIS confirms its leader was killed, does not provide details
A militant is seen holding the flag of ISIS in 2015.
Another One Gone

ISIS confirms its leader was killed, does not provide details

Court rejects plan by Dutch national park to control wolf population with paintballs
A European grey wolf seen in the Netherlands.
Not A Great Idea

Court rejects plan by Dutch national park to control wolf population with paintballs

French baguette awarded UNESCO heritage status
French Baguettes
rising to the top

French baguette awarded UNESCO heritage status

2 Chinese cities ease COVID-19 restrictions as protesters pledge to continue
Officials test pedestrians in China for COVID-19.
Making Changes

2 Chinese cities ease COVID-19 restrictions as protesters pledge to continue

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World's 1st hydrogen-powered jet engine could mark turning point for aviation industry
A Rolls-Royce engine seen during an airshow.
Flying High

World's 1st hydrogen-powered jet engine could mark turning point for aviation industry

Sanctions apparently hurting Russia's economy, Ukraine war effort
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New Pain no gain

Sanctions apparently hurting Russia's economy, Ukraine war effort

China's Xi has few good options amid protests of 'zero COVID' policy
Anti-zero COVID protest in Beijing
China's COVID protests

China's Xi has few good options amid protests of 'zero COVID' policy