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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 25, 2018

Bonnie Kristian
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1.

John McCain to discontinue medical treatment

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has elected to discontinue medical treatment, his family said in a statement Friday. McCain was diagnosed with gliobastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, last summer. The "progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict," the family's statement said, but McCain reached his decision "with his usual strength of will." The 81-year-old has represented Arizona in the Senate since 1987. Before holding elected office, McCain was a captain in the U.S. Navy and earned a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam, where he spent five years as a prisoner of war. [The Guardian, The Week]

2.

Trump Organization CFO granted immunity in Cohen investigation

Allen Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity to speak with federal prosecutors, sources told The Wall Street Journal Friday. Weisselberg has testified before a grand jury in the investigation of Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer who earlier this week pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and tax fraud. Weisselberg reportedly helped Cohen facilitate hush payments to two women who say they had affairs with President Trump. Meanwhile, The New York Times reported Thursday the Manhattan district attorney's office is considering criminal charges against the Trump Organization. [The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times]

3.

Trump lambastes Sessions on Twitter after attorney general's pushback

President Trump responded on Twitter Friday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Thursday assertion that he would "not be improperly influenced by political considerations" in his Justice Department leadership. Trump quoted Sessions' pledge, sarcastically adding, "Jeff, this is GREAT, what everyone wants, so look into all of the corruption on the 'other side,'" after which he added a laundry list of grievances related to Hillary Clinton and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. "Come on Jeff," Trump concluded, "you can do it, the country is waiting!" Trump reprised his tweeted attacks on Sessions Saturday morning. [CNN, Washington Examiner]

4.

Trump delays Pompeo visit to North Korea, citing lack of denuclearization

President Trump announced on Twitter Friday he has directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to delay his trip to North Korea, previously planned for next week. "I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Trump wrote, slamming China for insufficient help due to his administration's trade war. He closed by sending "warmest regards" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. After Trump met with Kim in June, he and Pompeo cried foul when critics said the agreement signaled no concrete progress. [CNN, CBS News]

5.

U.S. cuts $200 million in aid to Palestine

The Trump administration has cut about $200 million in development aid to Palestine, announcing Friday the money would be allocated to "high-priority projects elsewhere." "At the direction of President Trump, we have undertaken a review of U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority and in the West Bank and Gaza to ensure these funds are spent in accordance with U.S. national interests and provide value to the U.S. taxpayer," said the State Department. Trump on Twitter earlier this year claimed "we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect." [NPR, The Associated Press]

6.

Rohingya refugee crisis reaches 1-year mark

One year has passed since government troops in Myanmar executed a massacre in villages populated by the Rohingya people, a stateless, majority-Muslim ethnic group. More than 700,000 Rohingya survivors, mostly women and children, have since made a dangerous border crossing to neighboring Bangladesh. They have formed the world's largest refugee camp near the Bangladeshi city of Cox's Bazar, living in makeshift structures built of bamboo and tarps. Relief aid remains grossly inadequate, and it is unclear how long the Rohingya will be permitted to stay in Bangladesh or where else they may flee to avoid returning to Myanmar. [ABC News, NPR]

7.

Hurricane Lane downgraded to tropical storm as it approaches Hawaii

Hurricane Lane was downgraded to a tropical storm Saturday, but its slow movement will likely bring prolonged heavy rainfall to Hawaii. "This is expected to lead to major, life-threatening flash flooding and landslides over all Hawaiian Islands," the Central Pacific Hurricane Center warned Friday. The storm has already dumped more than 40 inches of rain on the Big Island, and thousands lost power as winds whipped through at 105 miles per hour. Officials said enduring the storm would be a "marathon" endeavor. [The New York Times, CNN]

8.

Pope Francis visits Ireland amid sex abuse scandal

Pope Francis arrived in Ireland Saturday, making the first papal visit to the country in four decades. He gave a speech at Dublin Castle, directly addressing the sexual abuse scandal currently engulfing the Catholic clerical hierarchy. "I cannot fail to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of young people by members of the Church charged with responsibility for their protection and education," Francis said. "The failure of ecclesiastical authorities ... to adequately address these repellent crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community." [BBC News, NBC News]

9.

Former CDC head arrested on sex abuse, harassment allegations

Tom Frieden, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Obama administration, was arrested Friday for alleged forcible touching, sex abuse, and harassment. Allegations against Frieden were levied by at least one woman, including an incident that reportedly occurred in October 2017 at his Brooklyn home. Frieden surrendered to Brooklyn police. He was appointed to lead the CDC by former President Barack Obama, taking office in May 2009. He served throughout the entire Obama presidency and resigned when President Trump took office. [CNBC, The Week]

10.

Toppled Confederate statue will be reinstalled, university board member says

A Confederate statue known as "Silent Sam" at the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina will be reinstalled after it was toppled by protesters this month, a member of the university's board of governors has announced. The monument's restoration will happen within 90 days. Meanwhile, three of the protesters who downed the statue are charged with misdemeanor rioting and defacing a public monument. Silent Sam was erected in 1913, the occasion marked by a speech from Ku Klux Klan supporter Julian Carr featuring a fond recollection of "horse-whipp[ing]" a black woman until "her skirts hung in shreds." [Reuters, CBS 17]