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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 28, 2018

Harold Maass
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
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1.

McCain called for unity in farewell message

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who died Saturday, said in a farewell message to the nation released Monday that Americans "will get through these trying times" if we "give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country." In an apparent rebuke of President Trump, with whom he frequently clashed, McCain said Americans weaken the nation's greatness "when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down." That reference was widely interpreted as fresh criticism of Trump's focus on fulfilling his campaign promise to build a wall on the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it. Also on Monday, Trump ordered flags at the White House lowered to half-staff until after McCain's funeral next weekend, after facing criticism for the decision to raise the flags after lowering them briefly over the weekend. [The Washington Post, USA Today]

2.

Trump announces trade deal with Mexico

President Trump on Monday announced that the U.S. and Mexico had reached an agreement on a tentative, revised trade deal intended to eventually replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. "It's a big day for trade. It's a big day for our country," said Trump, who spoke by phone with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Several factors remained unresolved, including whether Canada, the third NAFTA party, would sign the deal. White House officials said the terms focused on manufacturing and would help U.S. workers by making it harder for China and other rivals to ship cheap goods destined for the U.S. through Mexico. The agreement also aims to bring labor and environmental rules into sync across the border to protect U.S. salaries and jobs. One senior administration official conceded that the cost of certain goods, such as automobiles, might be driven higher. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]

3.

Court strikes down North Carolina congressional maps — again

A three-judge panel on Monday again ruled that North Carolina's congressional map was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander designed by Republican lawmakers to benefit their party and dilute Democratic votes. The federal judges reached the same conclusion in January, but the Supreme Court declined to hear the case and sent it back for the lower court to reconsider whether the plaintiffs had standing to sue. The lower court judges agreed that the voting-rights groups and residents of the districts were entitled to challenge the maps. The judges left open the possibility of ordering new maps before the 2018 midterm elections, potentially affecting the fight for control of the House. North Carolina lawmakers are likely to appeal to the Supreme Court. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]

4.

Parents of Jacksonville shooting suspect tried to get him psychiatric help

Court records show that the parents of David Katz, the 24-year-old Maryland man who allegedly fatally shot two fellow video-gamers and then himself at a tournament in Florida on Sunday, tried for years to get him treatment for his troubling behavior. His mother, Elizabeth Katz, told the court her son once punched a hole through her bedroom door to get video game controllers she had taken from him. He "would play video games until 4 a.m. on school nights," a judge in his parents' contentious divorce wrote in 2010, and was "uncooperative" with psychotherapists. Authorities on Monday identified the two victims killed at a Madden NFL 19 tournament in Jacksonville as Taylor Robertson, the 27-year-old who won last year's Madden Classic competition, and Eli Clayton, a former high school football player and professional gamer. [The Baltimore Sun, CBS News]

5.

Report: Manafort lawyers met with prosecutors to discuss deal in next trial

Earlier this month, while jurors in Virginia deliberated in Paul Manafort's bank and tax fraud trial, lawyers for President Trump's former campaign chairman met with prosecutors and tried to reach a deal ahead of Manafort's next trial, people with knowledge of the matter told The Wall Street Journal Monday. The negotiations came to a halt after Special Counsel Robert Mueller raised issues he had with the deal, but it's unclear what he objected to, the Journal reports. Because they didn't reach a plea agreement, a second trial in Washington is expected to begin next month, with prosecutors accusing Manafort of not registering for lobbying work he did for the Ukrainian government and conspiring to launder millions of dollars in income. [The Wall Street Journal]

6.

Primary voters head to polls in Florida, Arizona, and Oklahoma

Florida voters head to the polls Tuesday for primary elections that will provide the latest test of President Trump's influence with Republicans. Trump endorsed U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in a race to pick the party's nominee to replace Republican Gov. Rick Scott. DeSantis got into the race in January shortly after Trump tweeted he would make "a GREAT governor," vaulting into contention against the early favorite, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. On the Democratic side, former Rep. Gwen Graham is facing four challengers in her bid to become Florida's first woman governor. Scott is expected to win the GOP primary to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. Voters also go to the polls in Arizona, where Republicans are holding a contentious primary for the seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake (R). In Oklahoma's gubernatorial primary, Republicans Mick Cornett and Kevin Stitt are facing each other in a runoff. [The Associated Press, Vox]

7.

Macron says European leaders can't rely on U.S. for security

French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that Europe could no longer rely on the U.S. alone to guarantee its security. "It's up to us," Macron told a gathering of France's ambassadors. Macron and President Trump appeared to hit it off in their first meetings, so well that they were teased about their "bromance." Since his election last year, Macron has urged Trump not to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, or impose tariffs on European steel and aluminum. He has failed to win over Trump, and his speech appeared to signal a change of approach. Macron called for the European Union to take greater responsibility for its own defense and make the European Union more "sovereign." [The Washington Post, The Independent]

8.

Facebook bans Myanmar military officials after U.N. criticism

Facebook said Monday it was banning several Myanmar military officials from the social media website and from Instagram to prevent the spreading of "hate and misinformation." Facebook said it reviewed the content before making the move. It is the first time Facebook has blocked any country's military or political leaders. The decision came hours after United Nations investigators released a scathing report accusing Myanmar's army of carrying out mass killings and gang rapes against members of the Muslim Rohingya minority, and criticizing Facebook for letting its platform be used to spread hate. The report accused Myanmar's military of acting with "genocidal intent," and called for prosecuting the military's commander-in-chief and five generals for their responsibility in the crimes. Government spokesman Zaw Htay was quoted in local media saying the government had asked Facebook for specifics on the justifications for the ban. [Reuters]

9.

Kushner Cos. fined for allegedly falsifying documents to push out tenants

New York City's Department of Buildings on Monday cited Kushner Companies, the family real-estate business of President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, with falsifying construction permits. Kushner Companies received citations for 42 violations for allegedly falsifying permits at 17 buildings in a bid to push out rent-regulated tenants. The company faces a total of $210,000 in fines. A spokeswoman for Kushner Companies said the violations stemmed from "paperwork errors." An investment group led by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen also faced scrutiny for similar complaints. Tenant activists issued a report on Monday based on city and state records accusing Cohen's group of falsifying construction permits to claim that three Manhattan buildings that had rent-protected tenants were vacant. [The New York Times]

10.

No. 1 seed Simona Halep falls in first round at the U.S. Open

The U.S. Open kicked off Monday in New York, and within hours there was already a prominent upset. No. 1 seed Simona Halep fell in straight sets to the unseeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi — 6-2, 6-4 — in the tournament's first round, marking the first time in modern history that the No. 1 women's seed has lost a first round match at the tournament. Kanepi will face Swiss player Jil Teichmann in the next round. Last year, the 33-year-old Kanepi made it to the quarterfinals as a qualifier, but she has yet to make it beyond that point in a tennis major. [USA Today]