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10 things you need to know today: July 21, 2018

Bonnie Kristian
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Cohen reportedly taped Trump discussing hush money for Playboy model

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former attorney, reportedly recorded Trump two months before the 2016 election discussing payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to silence her about an alleged affair. Lawyers familiar with the case say the FBI seized the recordings when agents raided Cohen's office earlier this year. Cohen is under investigation for potential campaign finance violations committed while paying hush money to cover up the president's alleged extramarital liaisons. It is "inconceivable," Trump tweeted Saturday, that "a lawyer would tape a client - totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!" [The New York Times, The Hill]


Missouri boat accident kills 9 from a single family

Nine of the 17 people killed when a duck boat capsized near Branson, Missouri, on Thursday were members of the same family, Governor Michael Parson said Friday. There were 31 people on the tourist boat which sunk in Table Rock Lake. Parson said a sudden storm created "extremely dangerous conditions" and made it too "turbulent" even for the experienced driver, who also died in the accident. Two vigils were held for the victims Friday night, and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) said she would consider "legislative solutions" to prevent future such tragedies. [CNN, The Mercury News]


CIA official: China is waging a 'cold war,' does 'not want conflict'

"By their own terms and what [Chinese President Xi Jinping] enunciates, I would argue by definition what they're waging against us is fundamentally a cold war," Michael Collins, deputy assistant director of the CIA's East Asia mission center, said of China in a security summit speech Friday. Collins defined cold war as a "country that exploits all avenues of power licit and illicit, public and private, economic and military, to undermine the standing of your rival relative to your own standing without resorting to conflict," adding, "The Chinese do not want conflict." [The Associated Press, CNN]


Trump threatens more China tariffs

President Trump said in an interview on CNBC's Squawk Box Friday he is prepared to impose tariffs on all $500 billion in Chinese imports if China doesn't ease its U.S. trade policies. "I'm ready to go to 500," the president said. Already the administration has imposed new tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods, prompting China to respond in kind. Trump is now reviewing potential levies on another $200 billion in Chinese products, and China has threatened to retaliate again if he goes through with the proposal. [CNBC, The Week]


Trump reportedly unhappy with intelligence chief

President Trump is "exasperated" with his director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, Politico reported Friday night, after the intelligence chief publicly chuckled Thursday at the idea of another Trump summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "That's going to be special," Coats said of Trump's invitation to Putin to visit Washington this fall, indicating he did not know of the meeting plan in advance. A former Trump administration official described the administration as in "meltdown" about Coats' comments, and Reuters reports White House staff are alarmed Coats was kept in the dark. [Reuters, Politico]


Trump demands unpaid suspensions for NFL protests

"The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again - can't believe it!" President Trump tweeted Friday evening, proposing unpaid suspensions for repeat protesters: "First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!" The NFL announced Thursday it would not enforce its new policy of requiring players to stand during the national anthem. The rule was introduced after uproar — most loudly from Trump himself — over athletes' decision to protest institutional racism and police brutality by kneeling while the song is performed. The policy is now under confidential review. [The Hill, ESPN]


Hamas agrees to ceasefire deal in Gaza

Hamas on Saturday announced it has accepted a ceasefire deal in the contested Gaza Strip after fighting on Friday left four Palestinians and one Israeli soldier dead. The temporary peace was brokered by Egypt and the United Nations. Israel has yet to confirm its acceptance of the agreement, but the Israeli military said in a statement Saturday it has "decided to maintain a full civilian routine in the communities close to the Gaza Strip," suggesting a cessation in hostilities. This is the second ceasefire in a week, punctuating the worst conflict in Gaza since 2014. [Al Jazeera, The Associated Press]


GOP picks Charlotte, North Carolina, for 2020 convention

The Republican National Committee has selected Charlotte, North Carolina, as the host city for its 2020 convention. North Carolina is a critical swing state that narrowly voted for President Trump in 2016, and Charlotte previously hosted the Democratic convention in 2012. The decision to accept the plan was hotly contested in Charlotte's city council, but the bid narrowly passed in a 6-5 vote after about 100 local residents weighed in. Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee has narrowed its convention city picks to Houston, Miami, and Milwaukee. [The Associated Press, NBC News]


Father of Parkland shooting survivors fatally shot by robber

The father of two survivors of February's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was fatally shot by an armed robber in his convenience store Tuesday. Ayub Ali, 61, was stocking shelves when a robber forced him to open the cash register. The robber took the money and left, but then returned to shoot Ali. A suspect identified as Tyrone Fields Jr., 19, was arrested Friday based on security camera footage from the store. He has been charged with murder and robbery with firearm. [CBS News, NPR]


Disney fires Guardians of the Galaxy's James Gunn over offensive tweets

Disney cut ties with James Gunn, who was set to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, after prominent conservative Twitter users unearthed his old tweets referencing pedophilia and rape. Gunn was removed from the Marvel Comics franchise, with Disney calling his tweets "indefensible." The offending comments, which also included jokes about 9/11 and the Holocaust, have since been deleted. Gunn described his tweets as an attempt to be a "provocateur," and said he's "very, very different" than he was in 2010 and 2011 when he posted the "shocking jokes" online. [The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline]