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10 things you need to know today: August 30, 2018

Harold Maass
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1.

Family, friends mourn McCain as memorial services begin

Cindy McCain wept as she pressed her face against the flag-draped casket of her husband, Sen. John McCain, on Wednesday at the first of two services scheduled before the longtime lawmaker and Vietnam-era war hero's body is taken to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol before his burial. Several of McCain's children also sobbed during the private service at the Arizona Capitol. McCain's casket will be taken from the Arizona Capitol, where McCain has been lying in state for two days, and taken to a church for a second service on Thursday. After the second service, where former Vice President Joe Biden will speak, McCain's remains will be taken from his home state to Washington, D.C. McCain died of brain cancer on Saturday. [The Associated Press]

2.

Trump attacks CNN, baselessly claims NBC 'fudged' his Comey interview

President Trump went on a tirade against his favorite media punching bags early Thursday, first claiming that CNN's "hatred and extreme bias" of him has "made them unable to function," and suggesting that Jeff Zucker ("Little Jeff Z") be fired because "his ratings suck." Trump said NBC News was actually "the worst," predicting that NBC News Chairman Andy Lack "is about to be fired (?) for incompetence" — the rumors are actually that he's in trouble due to Matt Lauer's sexual misconduct scandal — and suggested, puzzlingly, that "Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia," an apparent reference to Trump's admission on national TV that he fired FBI Director James Comey because of the Russia investigation. Trump concluded by throwing "fake books" into the media bonfire and declaring: "Enemy of the People!" [Twitter]

3.

Trump says White House counsel McGahn to leave in fall

President Trump said in a Wednesday tweet that White House counsel Don McGahn would leave his post this fall. Axios had reported the news earlier in the day, and Trump confirmed it. Under Trump's timetable, McGahn would go after the Senate confirms Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Trump reportedly made the announcement without telling McGahn first. The news came 11 days after a New York Times report that McGahn, who worked closely with Trump as the president tried to contain the Russian election-meddling investigation, had cooperated extensively with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators. McGahn's departure would deprive Trump of the latest in a string of close advisers who have left the administration. McGahn has been known as a valuable adviser because of his willingness to push back when he disagreed with Trump. [Axios, The New York Times]

4.

Democrats call DeSantis remark about Gillum racist

Hours after Florida's gubernatorial primary, Democrats accused Trump-endorsed Republican nominee Rep. Ron DeSantis of using "racist dog whistles" by urging voters not to "monkey this up" by backing his black Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is vying to become the state's first African-American governor. Florida's Democratic Party chairwoman, Terrie Rizzo, called the remark "disgusting" and "racist." DeSantis spokesman Brad Herold called Rizzo's criticism "absurd," saying that DeSantis was advocating against what the GOP candidate called Gillum's "socialist agenda," not his race. Progressives praised Gillum, who favors Medicare for all and abolishing ICE, and said his politics will be a welcome change. [Politico]

5.

Trump, Trudeau upbeat on NAFTA negotiations

President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed optimism on Wednesday that the two countries would meet a Friday deadline to strike a deal on revising the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada rejoined talks on updating NAFTA, which is 24 years old, after the U.S. and Mexico reached a tentative agreement on a bilateral deal, and the Trump administration threatened to go ahead with the agreement with or without Canada. "They (Canada) want to be part of the deal, and we gave until Friday and I think we're probably on track," Trump said. Trump's optimism marked a shift from his previous rhetoric. He has railed against Canada on Twitter in recent weeks, saying its high dairy tariffs are "killing our Agriculture!" Trudeau said a Friday deal was possible, but added, "No NAFTA deal is better than a bad NAFTA deal." [Reuters]

6.

FBI refutes Trump claim that China hacked Clinton's server

The FBI said Wednesday that there is no evidence to support President Trump's claim that Hillary Clinton's private email server was hacked by a foreign entity. The statement came after President Trump claimed on Twitter that China had obtained classified information by hacking into Clinton's servers and demanded that the Justice Department investigate the allegations. Trump was likely referring to an article by the conservative Daily Caller, but the DOJ said that despite Trump's claims that the hack was a "very big story," experts had already determined that Clinton's emails were not being relayed to China "in real time," as the article purported. [The Associated Press]

7.

Trump administration challenges citizenship of some Hispanic-American passport applicants

The Trump administration has been denying passports and challenging the validity of birth certificates of hundreds, possibly thousands of Hispanic-Americans who live near the Mexican border in Texas, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. Some passport applicants with U.S. birth certificates have been jailed in immigration detention centers. The Post said the cases "suggest a dramatic shift" in passport policies. The State Department denied any change, but said in some cases people's citizenship is being challenged because "the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud." In one such case, a midwife pleaded guilty to selling Texas birth certificates for children born in Mexico. [The Washington Post, The Associated Press]

8.

Report: DeVos mulling rules boosting rights of accused in campus sex cases

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is preparing to propose new campus sexual misconduct policies that will strengthen the rights of students accused of harassment, assault, or rape, The New York Times reported Wednesday. The proposed rules, which the newspaper obtained, also would reduce liability for colleges and universities, and establish a higher legal standard for showing they improperly handled complaints. The rules also would encourage the institutions to increase support for victims. The proposed changes come as major institutions, including Ohio State University, the University of Southern California, and Michigan State University, are dealing with charges that members of their faculty and staff have committed serious sexual misconduct. [The New York Times]

9.

Prosecution error leads to dropping of some New Mexico compound charges

Two judges on Wednesday dismissed child neglect charges Wednesday against the defendants in the case of a New Mexico compound where investigators found 11 emaciated children living in filth and the remains of a boy reported kidnapped in Georgia. Judge Emilio Chavez of Taos County ruled that three of the defendants, Lucas Morton, Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhannah A. Wahhaj, had to be released because prosecutors missed a 10-day limit for a hearing to establish probable cause. Another judge later ordered charges dropped against the other two defendants, Siraj Wahhaj and Jany Leveille, although they were immediately charged again with the more serious charge of child abuse resulting in death. Prosecutors could still obtain the other charges by getting a grand jury indictment. [The Washington Post, USA Today]

10.

Sloane Stephens advances, Williams sisters head for matchup at U.S. Open

The U.S. Open continued Wednesday through extreme heat in New York City. No. 3 seed Sloane Stephens came back to beat 21-year-old Ukranian Anhelina Kalina, dropping the first set before claiming the second and third. No. 16 Venus Williams defeated Camila Giorgi of Italy in straight sets, setting up a third-round showdown with her sister Serena Williams, who got past Germany's Carina Witthoft later Wednesday. The stifling weather at Flushing Meadows prompted tournament organizers to invoke the Extreme Heat Policy, which allows players 10-minute breaks between certain sets. On Wednesday afternoon, Accuweather pegged the temperature in New York at 91 degrees Fahrenheit, with a "Real Feel" temperature of 101 degrees. [CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated]