10 things you need to know today: August 19, 2018

White House counsel reportedly spent 30 hours talking to Mueller probe, Trump claims he approved White House counsel's cooperation with Mueller, and more

President Trump
(Image credit: Jim Watson/Getty Images)

1. White House counsel reportedly spent 30 hours talking to Mueller probe

White House counsel Don McGahn has cooperated extensively with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, The New York Times reported Saturday. McGahn has shared "detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice," the Times reports, "including some that investigators would not have learned of otherwise." He has voluntarily given about 30 hours of interviews to the Mueller team since December. It is unclear, the Times notes, whether Trump has fully realized McGahn has taken this approach.

The New York Times The Hill

2. Trump claims he approved White House counsel's cooperation with Mueller

"The Failing New York Times wrote a story that made it seem like the White House Councel [sic] had TURNED on the President, when in fact it is just the opposite - & the two Fake reporters knew this," President Trump raged on Twitter early Sunday. It was his fifth tweet in an overnight series on a Saturday New York Times report that White House counsel Don McGahn has cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In other posts, Trump claimed he approved McGahn's actions and reprised a familiar refrain of protests and misdirection about Hillary Clinton, the media, and more.

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The Hill The Wall Street Journal

3. Trump to announce new emissions rules for coal

President Trump intends to announce this coming week new guidelines for emissions from coal power plants, The Washington Post reported Saturday. The proposal would reverse an Obama administration policy intended to discourage coal use long-term. The new plan would allow states to set comparatively looser standards for coal plants for the next decade. The Post reports the Trump proposal will result in the release of 12 times the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as compared to emissions under the Obama-era rules.

The Wall Street Journal The Washington Post

4. Putin and Merkel talk gas pipeline and more

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Saturday evening in Germany to discuss the Nord Stream 2 oil pipeline, intended to run through the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. The plan is opposed by Washington, as the Trump administration would prefer Germany make energy purchases from the United States. "It is necessary to take measures against possible non-competitive and illegal attacks from third countries in order to complete this project eventually," said Kremlin represenative Dmitry Peskov after the meeting. Putin and Merkel also talked Urkaine, Syria, and Iran.

Politico Reuters

5. Catholics grapple with fresh revelations of clergy abuse

Catholics in the United States and around the world are grappling with a litany of recent revelations of sexual abuses perpetrated by clergy in the Catholic Church, most notably Tuesday's publication of the names of more than 300 priests facing child sex abuse allegations in Pennsylvania. A New York Times report published Saturday details the response of one Pennsylvania parish to learning the early retirement of their beloved priest was occasioned by credible abuse allegations. "[S]omething has to be said," the priest who replaced him told the Times. "But I can't even formulate how to even approach it."

CNN The New York Times

6. Syria's Idlib province braces for final major offensive

Syria's Idlib province is expected to be the site of the final major battle of the seven-year Syrian civil war. The country's strongman President Bashar al-Assad has retaken most rebel-held territory across Syria, and Idlib is the last large rebel-held enclave. About 70,000 rebel fighters are in the province, driven by regime forces from other Syrian regions. Idlib is also the temporary home of internally displaced people who have fled more intense fighting elsewhere in Syria. Now, the fighting will likely come to their doorsteps once again as a new offensive is thought to be imminent.

Time NBC News

7. Deadly floods displace 800,000 in India

Unusually catastrophic monsoon rains continued Saturday in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where as of Sunday more than 800,000 people have evacuated their homes to escape rising floodwaters. Another 10,000 are thought to be trapped on their roofs awaiting rescue. Severe flooding has lasted for more than a week, and over 350 people have died in connection to the floods. More rain is expected at least through Monday, hindering already fraught rescue efforts. Nevertheless, 82,000 rescues were completed on Friday alone.

The Associated Press The Week

8. Ocasio-Cortez criticized for banning media from town hall event

Democratic socialist congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came under criticism this past week for banning the press from two town hall events she held in her New York City district. She defended the choice on Twitter Friday by noting many of her supporters are immigrants and may be "victims of [domestic violence], trafficking, [and] have personal medical issues." Prohibiting a media presence, she said, was intended to help them feel safe. Critics were undeterred, arguing she should not have labeled the meetings "public" events if journalists were not allowed to enter.

The New York Times CNN

9. ICE detains man driving his pregnant wife to her delivery, citing murder warrant

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on Wednesday arrested Joel Arrona-Lara as he drove his wife, Maria del Carmen Venegas, to the hospital to give birth. Arrona-Lara was detained when he stopped at a gas station, and Venegas, left sobbing at the station, ultimately drove herself to the hospital and delivered the baby alone. ICE said Saturday the arrest was made because Arrona-Lara is in the U.S. illegally and there is an "outstanding warrant issued for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges." Venegas told CNN the warrant is the result of "a misunderstanding."


10. Charges expected Monday in Colorado family killing

Colorado authorities are expected to issue charges Monday against Chris Watts, the man suspected of murdering his pregnant wife, Shannan, and their two young daughters. Autopsies were completed on the three victims Friday, and investigators will reportedly release an affidavit detailing the case against Watts Monday. A candlelight vigil was held outside the Watts' home Friday night. Shannan Watts would have had a gender reveal party for her new baby Saturday. Her brother said it was a boy, and she'd planned to name him Niko.


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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of TheWeek.com. She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.