Daily briefing

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

FBI expands interview list for Kavanaugh probe, Trump denies imposing limits on Kavanaugh investigation, and more

1

FBI expands interview list for Kavanaugh probe

The FBI is contacting a growing list of people to interview in its investigation of sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, The Washington Post reported late Saturday. Among the forthcoming interviewees is Deborah Ramirez, Kavanaugh's second accuser and former Yale classmate. "She has agreed to cooperate with their investigation," said Ramirez's attorney. "Out of respect for the integrity of the process, we will have no further comment at this time." The Senate Judiciary Committee has also referred the FBI to another, as yet unidentified person who alleged assault by Kavanaugh only to "recant" and apologize online.

2

Trump denies imposing limits on Kavanaugh investigation

"NBC News incorrectly reported (as usual) that I was limiting the FBI investigation of Judge Kavanaugh, and witnesses, only to certain people." President Trump tweeted Saturday night. "Actually, I want them to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion." The NBC report cited "multiple people familiar with the process" who said only allegations from Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez would be considered, and the FBI wouldn't examine the accusation from Julie Swetnick. Two sources told The New York Times Kavanaugh's high school friend, Mark Judge, will be interviewed about Swetnick. Trump has limited the probe to one week.

3

Indonesia earthquake and tsunami death toll tops 800

The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday grew by Sunday to 832 people, with hundreds of additional injuries. Rescuers have struggled to reach remote areas as communication services remain down. Dozens of people are thought to still be trapped inside two hotels and a mall that collapsed in the city of Palu. "We are trying our best," said rescue chief Muhammad Syaugi. "Time is so important here to save people." While initial reports estimated the tsunami at 10 feet tall, updated estimates say waves were up to twice that large.

4

Trump says he 'fell in love' with Kim Jong Un

Speaking at a rally in West Virginia Saturday night, President Trump expressed fond affection for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. After listing signs of progress in U.S.-North Korea relations, Trump enthused about his feelings. "I like him. He likes me," the president said. "We would go back and forth, and then we fell in love," Trump added. "He wrote me beautiful letters. And they are great letters. We fell in love." Immediately after that sentence, Trump imagined the media mocking his words, then argued that it is exactly this sort of phrasing which makes his supporters love him.

5

North Korea says continued U.S. sanctions foster 'mistrust,' make denuclearization less likely

"Without any trust in the U.S. there will be no confidence in our national security and under such circumstances there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first," said North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho at the United Nations Saturday. "The perception that sanctions can bring us on our knees is a pipe-dream of the people who are ignorant about us. But the problem is that the continued sanctions are deepening our mistrust" in the U.S., he continued, arguing Washington has not reciprocated goodwill gestures. The Trump administration says sanctions will continue until denuclearization is complete.

6

Trump starts 5-state rally tour

President Trump's rally in Wheeling, West Virginia, Saturday evening was the first of five such events in Trump-friendly areas of the country he has scheduled for the coming week. The president will also make appearances in Johnson City, Tennessee, on Monday; Southaven, Mississippi, on Tuesday; Rochester, Minnesota, on Thursday; and Topeka, Kansas, on Saturday. While Washington roils over the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Trump will focus on the midterm elections, warning, as he did in West Virginia, that a Democratic victory means "Venezuela, big version."

7

Elon Musk steps down as Tesla chair, remains CEO

Tesla's Elon Musk agreed on Saturday to step down from his role as chair of the company's board within the next 45 days and refrain from seeking the position again for a minimum of three years. He will, however, stay on as CEO. The deal, which is still subject to court approval, was made with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to which Musk will also pay a $20 million fine. The SEC filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to remove Musk as CEO, alleging he misled investors when he claimed to have secured enough funding to take Tesla private.

8

U.S. warship sails close to disputed South China Sea islands

A U.S. Navy destroyer on Sunday sailed close to disputed islands in the South China Sea, U.S. officials have reported. "All operations are designed in accordance with international law," one such official told CNN, "and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows." Regardless of technical legal status, the sail is likely to anger Beijing, which considers the uninhabited islands and surrounding waters Chinese territory. The area is also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. This comes amid rising U.S.-China trade tensions.

9

Elizabeth Warren to 'take a hard look' at possible 2020 presidential campaign

Watching Thursday's Brett Kavanaugh hearings in the Senate, "I thought: Time's up," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Saturday at a town hall event in her home state. "It's time for women to go to Washington and fix our broken government, and that includes a woman at the top," she continued. "So here's what I promise: After Nov. 6, I will take a hard look at running for president." Warren is one of several Democratic senators expected to make a play for the progressive vote in 2020. No Democrats have declared their candidacy so far.

10

SNL returns with Matt Damon as a sniffing, yelling Brett Kavanaugh

Saturday Night Live returned for Season 44, launching with a cold open starring actor Matt Damon as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The scene is Thursday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. "Now I am usually an optimist," Damon's Kavanaugh says in his introduction. "I'm a keg-half-full kind of guy, but what I've seen from the monsters on this committee makes me want to puke — and not from beer!" He lays out a two-prong defense against sexual assault allegations: One, look at his "beautiful, creepy calendars," and two, in high school, he was "the proudest, drunkest virgin you've ever seen."

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