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

The FBI fires Peter Strzok after anti-Trump texts, a man injures pedestrians in crash outside British Parliament, and more

Police outside of the Houses of Parliament
(Image credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

1. FBI fires Strzok over anti-Trump texts

Senior FBI agent Peter Strzok, who criticized President Trump in texts, has been fired for violating bureau policies, his lawyer said Monday. Strzok's dismissal came after the FBI's inspector general found he had sent text messages to FBI lawyer Lisa Page expressing contempt for President Trump. Strzok was involved with the investigation into Russia's election interference, but testified last month that his personal views did not influence his work. FBI disciplinary officials had decided Strzok should be demoted and suspended, but the bureau's deputy director ordered him fired. Strzok's lawyer, Aitan Goelman, called the decision "deeply troubling for all Americans," noting that a thorough investigation had "failed to produce a shred of evidence" Strzok's personal views affected his work.

The Washington Post The New York Times

2. Man crashes car into barriers outside British Parliament

A man crashed a car into security barriers outside Britain's Houses of Parliament during Tuesday morning rush hour, injuring "a number of pedestrians," London police said. London Ambulance Service said two people were treated at the scene, and both were taken to a hospital. Scotland Yard said the injuries were not life-threatening. Police say the crash appears to have been deliberate, the driver has been arrested but is not cooperating, and the incident is being treated as an act of presumptive terrorism. The nearby Westminster Underground station and roads around the area were closed. Parliament was already in summer recess.

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The Washington Post CNN

3. Mueller's team rests case against Manafort

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors on Monday rested their case against Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman. Manafort has been charged with tax evasion, money laundering, and bank fraud over his alleged failure to report millions of dollars of income from his work as a political consultant in Ukraine before he joined the Trump campaign. The prosecution's witnesses have included accountants, bank executives, and former Manafort business partner Rick Gates, who agreed to work with the government and pleaded guilty to reduced charges in February. Gates testified that Manafort had offshore accounts to hide money. He also admitted to having embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort. The defense is expected to start calling witnesses on Tuesday.

NBC News

4. Trump signs defense bill named for McCain

President Trump on Monday signed a $716 billion defense bill named for ailing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), but didn't mention the Vietnam War hero and POW in his remarks. McCain is battling an aggressive form of brain cancer, and has been resting at his home in Arizona. The bill's formal title is the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, but during his speech at Fort Drum in New York, Trump only called it the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill authorizes funding for military construction and advanced technology. Trump and McCain have clashed openly in the past. Trump has scoffed at McCain's military service and criticized him for casting a key vote against a repeal of the Affordable Care Act last year.

The Washington Post

5. Trump says there are no Apprentice tapes of him using racial slur

The feud between President Trump and former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, a one-time contestant on Trump's reality TV show The Apprentice, escalated on Monday. Trump tweeted a denial of Manigault Newman's claim that there was an audio tape of him using a racial slur on the Apprentice set, saying the show's producer, Mark Burnett, "called to say that there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa." Manigault Newman, who is promoting her new tell-all book Unhinged, provided a different audio tape to the Today show on Monday in which Trump expressed surprise that she had been fired by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Trump responded with a tweet calling Manigault Newman "vicious but not smart."

Twitter NBC News

6. Trump-appointed judge upholds Mueller's authority

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was appointed by President Trump, ruled in an opinion published Monday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has the power to pursue a case against a Russian company accused of backing a social media campaign to turn voters against Trump's 2016 opponent, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The Russian company, Concord Management and Consulting, had tried to get Mueller's case against it thrown out, arguing that Mueller didn't have the power to pursue it because he was not appointed by the president and approved by Congress. Friedrich wrote that Mueller's appointment by the Justice Department "does not violate core separation-of-powers principles," and that Mueller had not exceeded his authority.


7. Florida man charged with manslaughter in stand-your-ground case

Florida prosecutors on Monday filed manslaughter charges against Michael Drejka for killing 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton in a convenience store parking lot. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri had declined to arrest Drejka, 47, after the July 19 shooting, saying Drejka was acting lawfully under the state's controversial stand-your-ground law. Drejka was arguing with McGlockton's girlfriend after she parked in a handicapped space without a sticker, and McGlockton was seen in security camera footage coming out and pushing Drejka to the ground. Drejka pulled a gun and McGlockton backed away, but Drejka fired, hitting McGlockton in the chest. The case has rekindled debate about self-defense laws and how they are applied. Drejka is white; McGlockton was black.

Tampa Bay Times

8. Trump chides Democrats ahead of primaries in 4 states

President Trump took aim at leading New York Democrats on Monday in his first visit to upstate New York as president. Appearing at a fundraiser for one of two Republican congresswomen whose districts he visited, Trump mocked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) as a "puppet" of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Trump also said it was "very sad to see what's happening to New York" under Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), whom he urged to run against him in 2020. Trump was testing his influence in his home state following victories last week for candidates he endorsed. Four states — Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, and Connecticut — hold primaries on Tuesday, and Democrats will be looking for fresh signs of a building "blue wave" before the fall midterms.

The New York Times The Associated Press

9. Tesla stock fluctuates as Musk touts Saudi interest in taking company private

Tesla's stock swung between gains and losses on Monday as investors digested CEO Elon Musk's comments about his proposal to take the electric car maker private. Tesla shares jumped by more than 3 percent in pre-market trading after a blog post by Musk went up on the company's website in which he said representatives of Saudi Arabia's sovereign-wealth fund had approached him "multiple times" about taking Tesla private. The shares later dropped before ending the day up by 0.3 percent at $356.41. Last week, Musk tweeted that he had "funding secured" to take the company private once the shares reached $420, sending the stock soaring. Investors have filed at least one lawsuit over Musk's remarks due to their effect on the stock, and federal regulators reportedly are looking into his comments.


10. Afghan government says troops beating back Taliban attack in Ghazni

Afghan forces with U.S. support regained control of large parts of the city of Ghazni on Tuesday after a surprise Taliban assault that killed nearly 100 members of the Afghan security forces and 20 civilians. Nearly 200 insurgents have also died. "Taliban militants have been pushed back. We will soon have complete control over the city," said defense ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish. Ghazni is an important city on a major highway joining the capital, Kabul, with the south of the country. The Taliban offensive there and another one in a different province have escalated concerns about the prospects of the Afghan and U.S. effort to put an end to the insurgency.


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.