10 things you need to know today: September 8, 2018

Obama rebukes Trump in pointed pre-midterms speech, Kavanaugh confirmation moves toward committee vote, and more

Former President Barack Obama speaks to students at the University of Illinois on September 7, 2018 in Urbana, Illinois.
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

1. Obama rebukes Trump in pointed pre-midterms speech

Former President Barack Obama slammed the Trump administration and urged high voter turnout this year because "our democracy depends on it" while speaking in Illinois Friday. For the first time since leaving office, Obama mentioned President Trump by name, saying he is a "symptom, not a cause" of fear of progress in America. Obama also mockingly questioned Trump's reluctance to condemn white supremacists, asking, "How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?" Trump responded to Obama's remarks from an event in North Dakota, saying he "fell asleep" while watching.

NBC News The Week

2. Kavanaugh confirmation moves toward committee vote

After a fourth and final day of questioning, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh completed the hearings stage of his confirmation process Friday. The next step is a vote within the the Senate Judiciary Committee, which committee chair Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has scheduled for this coming Thursday, Sept. 13, followed by a vote on the Senate floor. Though Senate Democrats, who have accused Kavanaugh of dishonesty, may delay the committee vote by up to a week, a party-line ballot could see Kavanaugh seated on the court in time for the start of its next session on Oct. 1.

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The New York Times Politico

3. Trump calls for DOJ investigation of New York Times op-ed

President Trump on Friday called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department to find the author of Wednesday's anonymous New York Times op-ed about his administration. Speaking aboard Air Force One, the president said the piece raises national security concerns. He called the author a "sick person" and declared the White House is a "well-oiled machine" that is "running beautifully." CNN reported Friday night White House aides have narrowed the search for the anonymous author to "a few individuals." Trump himself reportedly thinks the writer is from the national security establishment.

The Washington Post CNN

4. Kim Jong Un wrote Trump a new letter

"I know that a letter is being delivered to me, a personal letter from [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un to me, that was handed at the border — I don't know if you know that — it was handed at the border yesterday," President Trump said Friday. The State Department confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did receive a letter for Trump from Kim, one of several such messages the leaders have exchanged in recent months. Trump predicted the note will be "positive," noting it is being delivered in "an elegant way."

CNN The Hill

5. General: Trump wants 'military options' if Assad uses chemical weapons again

The Pentagon has prepared options for a military response should Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime again deploy chemical weapons, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Saturday. "We are in a dialogue ... with the president to make sure he knows where we are with regard to planning in the event that chemical weapons are used," Dunford said, adding that President Trump "expects us to have military options." Meanwhile, in Syria, U.S. troops conducted a live-fire aerial assault exercise on Friday to warn away Assad regime forces and their Russian allies from an American base.

Reuters The Washington Post

6. Ex-Trump aide George Papadopoulos sentenced to 14 days in prison

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was sentenced Friday to 14 days in prison after pleading guilty to making false statements to the FBI. Papadopoulos lied about his 2016 communications with a British professor who said Russians could offer the Trump campaign "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. Though he pleaded guilty, he asked for no jail time, with his lawyers explaining he was merely "misguided" in his effort to remain loyal to his "master." The judge reportedly found Papadopoulos "remorseful," opting to give him a short sentence, a $9,500 fine, and 200 hours of community service.

CNN BuzzFeed News

7. Tesla shares plunge after Elon Musk smokes pot in live interview

Tesla stock went into free fall Friday after chief executive Elon Musk smoked marijuana during an interview on comedian Joe Rogan's live podcast Thursday night. The company's stocks were already at a record low Wednesday, and two Tesla executives announced their departures Friday. One of them, the chief accounting officer, Dave Morton, specifically cited "the level of public attention placed on the company" as a reason for his exit. Musk's bizarre public behavior of late reportedly has staff and investors concerned about his leadership.

Reuters The Week

8. Dallas police officer fatally shoots man after entering wrong apartment

A Dallas police officer fatally shot a man named Botham Jean late Thursday after she mistakenly entered his apartment, believing it to be her own. The officer, who has not been identified, has not been arrested, but Dallas police are obtaining a warrant on manslaughter charges and have asked the Texas Rangers to lead the investigation for the sake of accountability. Jean hailed from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. He came to the U.S. for college and worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas. "He was really inspiring," said Jean's brother, Brandt. "He had a positive mind and vibe."


9. Rapper Mac Miller dead at 26

Rapper Mac Miller died Friday of what appears to be an overdose. The 26-year-old rapper, whose real name is Malcolm James McCormick, had released his latest album, Swimming, last month. Miller has been open about his struggles with substance abuse in the past, and he was charged with a DUI after a May car accident. His addiction issues contributed to a breakup with longtime girlfriend Ariana Grande in May, Grande has said. Last month, a Rolling Stone article about the rapper was titled, "Mac Miller wants you to know he's okay."

Variety Los Angeles Times

10. NFL kickoff weekend continues after Eagles beat Falcons in opener

The Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons kicked off the NFL season in earnest Thursday, with the defending Super Bowl champions eking out an 18-12 win. The Eagles ran "Philly Philly" in the middle of the third quarter — a trick play very similar to the iconic "Philly Special" call that earned quarterback Nick Foles a touchdown reception in last year's Super Bowl — with wide receiver Nelson Agholor feeding his signal-caller for a 15-yard gain. Week 1 continues with games Sunday, including Pittsburgh-Cleveland at 1 p.m. ET on CBS and Dallas-Carolina at 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox.


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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.