Daily Briefing

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

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Harold Maass
Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals celebrates his team's first-ever Stanley Cup win on Thursday.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

1.

Allies rebuke Trump over tariffs ahead of G7 summit

President Trump travels to Quebec on Friday for a Group of Seven or G7 summit, where he is expected to face angry push-back over tariffs he is imposing on America's closest allies. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was "insulting and totally unacceptable" to say the tariffs against America's most staunch allies were necessary for national security, as Trump did. French President Emmanuel Macron warned via Twitter that the other six countries could exclude the U.S. from the traditional end-of-meeting joint statement. Trump said Canada and France already charged "massive" tariffs on U.S. goods. The White House said Trump would skip most of the summit's second day, leaving before sessions on climate change and clean energy, as well as the release of the joint statement. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]

2.

Former Senate staffer charged with lying to FBI in leak case

The Senate Intelligence Committee's former director of security, James A. Wolfe, was arrested Thursday on charges that he lied to the FBI about his contacts with three reporters. Wolfe had access to top secret information provided to the committee by the executive branch, and was responsible for safeguarding it. The New York Times reported that the Department of Justice notified Times reporter Ali Watkins in February that it had seized her phone and email records, going back several years, in an inquiry into leaks of classified information. The Times said the seizure might have been related to her report for BuzzFeed News on Russian spies' attempts to recruit Carter Page in 2013 before he worked as a foreign policy adviser for President Trump's campaign. Watkins and Wolfe once had a personal relationship. [The New York Times]

3.

DOJ says it won't defend ObamaCare in court

The Justice Department said in a brief filed Thursday in a Texas federal court that it would not defend the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, against a court challenge by 20 Republican-run states. The case, pushed by the Texas attorney general and fellow Republican leaders in other states, argues that the elimination of the health-care law's tax penalty for uninsured individuals makes its individual mandate, which requires that individuals get health insurance, unconstitutional. The Justice Department said that also meant that other parts of the law had to go, including the provision barring insurance companies from denying coverage for people who have pre-existing conditions. The DOJ decision amounts to a clean break with standard executive branch policy to fight to uphold laws as passed by Congress. [The Washington Post, Reuters]

4.

Trump says no need to 'prepare very much' for North Korea summit

President Trump said Thursday that he doesn't need to "prepare very much" for his potentially historic nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore next week. "It's about attitude. It's about willingness to get things done," Trump told reporters. White House staffers reportedly have expressed concern that Trump has passed on meetings with national security advisers and isn't strategizing as most politicians would before such a major event. One Bush administration official who specialized in Asia policy told Politico that regional experts are concerned that Trump "is going to wing this summit." [NBC News, Politico]

5.

Dangerous conditions force suspension of Guatemala volcano rescue efforts

Rescuers suspended the search for survivors in areas devastated by the eruption of Guatemala's Fuego volcano on Thursday because weather conditions and still-hot volcanic material were making the work too dangerous. "It rained very hard yesterday. … The soil is unstable," said Pablo Castillo, a spokesman for the national police. Some distraught residents kept looking for missing loved ones using their own tools. The death toll continued rising, with an additional 10 confirmed deaths bringing the total to 109. Another 200 people are believed missing. [The Associated Press]

6.

Immigration officials say 1,600 migrants to be held in federal prisons

U.S. immigration authorities said Thursday that they would be transferring more than 1,600 people arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border to federal prisons. The move is necessary because their own detention facilities are filling up as President Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration continues. Among the immigration detainees to be housed temporarily in prisons are some parents who have been separated from their children. Migrant advocates condemned the move, saying some of the people to be transferred have legitimate claims to asylum and don't deserve to be sent to federal prisons. Historically, undocumented immigrants without serious criminal records were freed while they sought asylum or refugee status. [The Associated Press]

7.

Trump administration reaches deal with China's ZTE

The Trump administration on Thursday reached a deal with Chinese telecom company ZTE, ending devastating U.S. sanctions but requiring the firm to pay a $1 billion penalty for violating U.S. rules on trading with Iran and North Korea. The deal also requires ZTE to pay for a U.S. compliance team that the U.S. is "literally embedding" in ZTE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC on Thursday. The sanctions barred the smartphone maker from buying parts from U.S. companies, essentially shutting it down. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who helped pave the way for next week's North Korea summit, personally asked President Trump to save ZTE. Lawmakers in both parties threatened to block the deal over concerns the company's equipment could be used to help China spy on Americans. [CNBC, The New York Times]

8.

Author, chef, TV host Anthony Bourdain dies at 61

Celebrated author and chef Anthony Bourdain, host of CNN's award-winning series Parts Unknown, has died in an apparent suicide, CNN reported Friday. He was 61. "His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink, and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller," the network said in a statement. Bourdain, whom the Smithsonian once called the "the Elvis of bad boy chefs," was in France working on an episode for his show, which explored food and culture around the world, when a friend, French chef Eric Ripert, found him unresponsive in his hotel room. Bourdain was a chef before his 2000 best-selling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly catapulted him to stardom. He hosted shows on the Food Network and the Travel Channel before joining CNN. [CNN]

9.

NASA rover finds signs of ancient organic material on Mars

NASA announced Thursday that its Curiosity rover had found organic matter on Mars, a new but inconclusive finding suggesting that the Red Planet might have had the building blocks of life. The samples were taken from 3.5 billion-year-old mudstone in the Gale Crater. "These results do not give us any evidence of life," said study lead author Jennifer Eigenbrode, a scientist at the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. "But there is a possibility that [the organics] are from an ancient life source; we just don't know. And even if life was never around, [the molecules] tell us there was at least something around for organisms to eat." [Space.com, CNN]

10.

Washington Capitals win their first Stanley Cup

The Washington Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 on Thursday to win the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup for the first time in the team's 44-year history. The Capitals won the best-of-seven series 4-1, ending a spectacular inaugural season for the Golden Knights, an expansion franchise that was born just last summer. The Capitals' Russian-born captain, Alex Ovechkin, was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs. Ovechkin, as the star and face of the franchise, often took the blame for the Capitals' failings over his 13 seasons with the team. "It doesn't matter what happened before," he said. "We just won it." [Reuters, The Associated Press]