Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 8, 2018

Dozens killed in suspected Syrian chemical attack, Trump Tower fire leaves 1 dead, 6 injured, and more


Dozens killed in suspected Syrian chemical attack

At least 70 people were killed and about 1,000 more injured in what is thought to be a chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma in the rebel-held area of Eastern Ghouta. The deaths have been reported by multiple activist groups on the ground in Syria but have not been independently confirmed. With support from Russia, the Bashar al-Assad regime has labeled the allegations a "fabrication." Syrian state-run media said government-rebel negotiations would begin Sunday. State Department representative Heather Nauert said Moscow "ultimately bears responsibility for these brutal attacks." President Trump condemned the attack on Twitter Sunday, blaming former President Obama for not conducting regime change in Syria.


Trump Tower fire leaves 1 dead, 6 injured

A fire broke out in a residential portion of Trump Tower in New York City Saturday evening, leaving one man dead. The victim, Todd Brassner, was a resident of building. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition and died shortly thereafter. Six firefighters were injured, none seriously, before the blaze was put out. Trump Tower apartments were built before a sprinkler system was required for New York skyscrapers. "Fire at Trump Tower is out," President Trump wrote on Twitter. "Very confined (well built building). Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!"


Apparent vehicle attack kills 2 in Germany

Two people were killed and about 20 injured after a man drove a small truck into a group of people outside a restaurant in Munster, Germany, on Saturday. The driver shot himself after the crash near the city's historic center. Police have indicated they are not searching for additional suspects and are "assuming" the crash was an intentional attack, though they do not have confirmation on that point. The driver has been identified as a German citizen, and connection to the Islamic State or similar terrorist groups has been ruled out. The investigation is still underway Sunday.


Trump redoubles attacks on FBI, DOJ, Washington Post

President Trump again expressed his displeasure with the FBI, the Department of Justice, and The Washington Post on Twitter Saturday and Sunday. The president accused the FBI and DOJ of "stalling" to conceal a "rigged investigation" of Hillary Clinton's email server from the House Judiciary Committee: "Slow walking - what is going on? BAD!" The Washington Post, he said, "is far more fiction than fact. Story after story is made up garbage - more like a poorly written novel than good reporting." Trump specifically slammed a Saturday evening report that Chief of Staff John Kelly has "faded as White House disciplinarian."


Trump defends Pruitt amid ethics scandals

President Trump defended Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt on Twitter Saturday, downplaying the administrator's multiple ethics scandals. "While Security spending was somewhat more than his predecessor, Scott Pruitt has received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA," Trump wrote. "Record clean Air & Water while saving USA Billions of Dollars. Rent was about market rate, travel expenses OK. Scott is doing a great job!" Trump met with Pruitt Friday, a conversation in which the EPA chief reportedly argued to keep his position.


Kelly reportedly loses influence, interest in his job

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly increasingly struggles to wrangle President Trump and has verbally threatened to quit his job, The Washington Post reported Saturday, citing accounts from 16 unnamed administration officials. A separate story at Axios offered a similar account, reporting that "Kelly blew up at Trump in an Oval Office meeting" in late March, "and while walking back to his office muttered he was going to quit." Kelly's arrival in the West Wing was greeted as a shift toward order and normalcy, but Trump reportedly ignores his input on many issues.


Iran hit with U.S.-branded cyberattack

Iranian data centers were attacked by hackers who left in their wake a text-based image of an American flag and a message reading, "Don't mess with our elections." "The attack apparently affected 200,000 router switches across the world in a widespread attack, including 3,500 switches in our country," Iran's Communication and Information Technology Ministry said Saturday. The attack targeted internet service providers and cut off some users' internet access. Other nations were affected as well, including the United States, India, and China.


Hungarian elections expected to secure nationalist victory

Turnout is high at Hungary's parliamentary elections Sunday, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party is expected to secure another victory. A win would give Orban his third consecutive term and delivery a triumph for Europe's right-wing nationalists. Orban has campaigned on a strict immigration policy, casting migration, especially from the Middle East, as an issue of culture and security. His supporters see him as "the defender of Europe from refugees and migrants," but critics say he is authoritarian and anti-Semitic.


Vatican arrests diplomat accused of viewing child pornography

The Vatican on Saturday arrested Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella, a Vatican priest and diplomat who was previously stationed in Washington, D.C., before being recalled to the Holy See. Capella stands accused of viewing child pornography, and his arrest came at the conclusion of a Vatican investigation. He now faces possible indictment, trial in Vatican courts, and up to 12 years in prison if convicted. The U.S. State Department wanted the Vatican to waive Capella's diplomatic immunity so he could be tried in America, but the Vatican decided to handle the matter internally.


Helicopter crash kills 2 soldiers at Fort Campbell

Two soldiers were killed at Fort Campell, Kentucky, Friday night when their helicopter crashed during a routine training exercise. Both were members of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, but their names have been withheld until their families are privately notified. "This is a day of sadness for Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne," said Brig. Gen. Todd Royarin an announcement of the accident Saturday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families during this difficult time."


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