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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 14, 2018

Harold Maass
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1.

Trump boasts of summit success despite lingering concerns

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un both declared their summit a success after returning home from Singapore on Wednesday. Trump tweeted that there was "no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea," adding later: "President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer — sleep well tonight!" Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said to expect "major disarmament" by Pyongyang within two and a half years. He said sanctions would only be lifted after complete denuclearization. International relations experts noted that North Korea has a history of breaking its promises. Fox News' Bret Baier pressed Trump on Kim's human rights abuses. Trump said Kim is a "tough guy," and that other leaders have "done some really bad things," too. [The Washington Post, Fox News]

2.

Pence touts administration actions to Southern Baptist Convention

Vice President Mike Pence touted the Trump administration's accomplishments in a campaign-style speech Wednesday at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Texas. Pence noted Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a longtime goal of many evangelical Christians, and called Trump "the most pro-life president in American history." "It's been 500 days of action ... 500 days of promises made and promises kept," he said. Pence indicated that he and Trump view the denomination, the largest U.S. Protestant group, as a key part of their conservative base. Some in the crowd applauded enthusiastically; others said Pence's speech was too political. "It's always wise to keep the Gospel a priority," tweeted the Rev. Wade Burleson of Oklahoma. [The Associated Press, The Washington Post]

3.

Report: Sanders, Shah to leave White House

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her top deputy, Raj Shah, "are planning their departures," CBS News reports, citing sources inside the White House and close to the administration. Sanders has told friends she plans to leave at the end of the year, CBS News reported, while Shah hasn't set a date. Sanders declined to comment on the record, but tweeted: "Does @CBSNews know something I don't about my plans and my future? ... They ran a story about my 'plans to leave the WH' without even talking to me. I love my job and am honored to work for @POTUS." The departures would add to months of White House turmoil, and more departures are expected soon, a former official said. [CBS News ]

4.

DOJ watchdog to release report on handling of Clinton email inquiry

The Justice Department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is expected to criticize the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation in a report set for release Thursday afternoon. The document will mark the completion of an 18-month review. It could give President Trump fresh justification for his firing of then-FBI Director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, both of whom Trump accuses of trying to undermine his campaign and, through the investigation into Russia's election meddling, his presidency. The report also could bolster claims by Democrats that Comey's decision to reopen the investigation in the final days of the 2016 campaign contributed to Trump's win over Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent. [The Associated Press]

5.

Report: Cohen splits with lawyers, expected to flip

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney, appears to be splitting with his lawyers and is likely to cooperate with federal investigators, ABC News reported Wednesday, citing sources with knowledge of the matter. Cohen has been under a months-long criminal investigation unrelated to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into Russian election meddling and possible collusion by Trump campaign associates. He faces a Friday deadline set by U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood to complete a review of more than 3.7 million documents seized in April raids of his home and office to determine what information he thinks should be protected by attorney-client privilege. [ABC News]

6.

Trump nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for North Korea summit

President Trump has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize due to his participation in the Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump was nominated by two members of Norway's populist Progress Party, who said Trump has "taken a huge and important step in the direction of the disarmament, peace, and reconciliation between North and South Korea." Earlier this year, 18 House Republicans nominated Trump for the Nobel for his work "to end the Korean War, denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, and bring peace to the region." Trump said this spring that "everyone thinks" he should win the Nobel, "but I would never say it." Four American presidents have won the prize, including former President Barack Obama in 2009. [Fox News]

7.

Comcast offers $65 billion for Fox media assets, topping Disney bid

Comcast on Wednesday offered $65 billion for 21st Century Fox, attempting to lure it away from a planned merger with Walt Disney Co. Comcast's all-cash bid is about 19 percent higher than Disney's, potentially launching a bidding war between two U.S. media giants. Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts said he was confident antitrust regulators would not stand in the way, given a judge's Tuesday decision to reject a Justice Department antitrust challenge to AT&T's plan to buy Time Warner for $85 billion. Comcast still could face complications in the effort to combine Fox's movie and TV studios with NBC Universal, which Comcast already owns. Its bid is expected to be the first in a series of efforts by media companies to combine content and distribution to better compete with Netflix and other streaming powerhouses. [Reuters]

8.

Fed raises interest rates

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its target short-term interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point for the second time this year, citing falling unemployment and rising inflation. The Fed also indicated that it probably would raise rates two more times this year, up from the single hike previously expected. The move pushes the target rate, which is closely linked with credit cards and home equity credit lines, to a range of 1.75 percent to 2 percent. Stocks edged down after the news, and U.S. stock futures inched down early Thursday. Investors had expected the hike but markets had been pricing in just a 46.5 percent chance of four increases this year, after the Fed indicated in May that three rate hikes were likely. [CNBC, MarketWatch]

9.

Antarctica ice melting faster than previously believed

Antarctica's ice sheet is melting at an accelerating rate, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. From 1992 to 2011, the southern-most continent lost nearly 84 billion tons of ice a year, but from 2012 to 2017 more than 241 billion tons melted per year. Antarctica's ice sheet is considered a key indicator of climate change. The amount of its ice that has melted in the last quarter century could cover all of Texas to a depth of nearly 13 feet, and has raised global ocean levels by about three-tenths of an inch. "I think we should be worried. That doesn't mean we should be desperate," said University of California Irvine's Isabella Velicogna, one of 88 co-authors. "Things are happening. They are happening faster than we expected." [The Associated Press]

10.

London Breed elected San Francisco's first black female mayor

London Breed, the president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, will become the city's first black female mayor, after eight days of ballot-counting all but eliminated rival candidate Mark Leno, who conceded the race Wednesday afternoon. Breed, 43, will become San Francisco's second female mayor, after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). San Francisco will become the largest U.S. city currently led by a woman. Leno would have been San Francisco's first openly gay mayor. All three frontrunners were Democrats. Breed briefly took over as mayor when Mayor Ed Lee (D) died of a heart attack in December. She will serve out the remainder of Lee's term, until 2020, and face the voters again in 2019. [San Francisco Chronicle, The Associated Press]