Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 9, 2018

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Harold Maass
President Trump in Kansas
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1.

Trump bashes Democrats as Kavanaugh promises to be impartial

President Trump used a White House ceremonial swearing-in for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to further politicize the judge's confirmation by calling allegations of sexual misconduct against him "a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception." Trump apologized to Kavanaugh "on behalf of our nation" for what he earlier called a "hoax" orchestrated by Democrats. He declared that Kavanaugh had been "proven innocent" in an investigation, although it reached no conclusions. Kavanaugh, whose confirmation faced intense protests, sought to ease partisan tensions by promising to "take this office with gratitude and no bitterness," saying the confirmation battle "did not change me." "My approach to judging remains the same: A good judge must be an umpire, a neutral and impartial decider that favors no litigant or policy," he said. [The Washington Post]

2.

Hurricane Michael projected to hit Florida Panhandle

Hurricane Michael continued intensifying on Monday and early Tuesday, with forecasters warning it could grow into a "potentially catastrophic storm" more powerful than previously thought before making landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday. The storm reached hurricane status on Monday after its top sustained winds went from 35 miles per hour to 75 mph over 24 hours. Its top winds reached 90 mph early Tuesday. The National Hurricane Center warned Michael could make landfall as a major hurricane — a Category 3 with top sustained winds of roughly 120 mph. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) ordered thousands of coastal residents to head inland and others to prepare to evacuate as forecasters issued a hurricane warning for the northeastern Gulf Coast from the Alabama-Florida border to Suwanee River, Florida. [USA Today]

3.

Kavanaugh to hear first arguments as Supreme Court justice

Newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh joins the other eight members of the high court on Tuesday to hear his first arguments as a justice. The confirmation of Kavanaugh, who is considered reliably conservative, to replace retired moderate conservative Anthony Kennedy, caps a decades-long push by Republicans to secure a solidly conservative 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court. Court watchers will be looking at any questions Kavanaugh may ask, seeking indications of how his presence will shift the balance on the court. Kavanaugh missed the first week of the court's new session due to a hearing and FBI investigation on sexual misconduct allegations against him. He was confirmed Saturday in a 50-48 vote, the narrowest confirmation of a justice since 1881. [The Associated Press]

4.

Trump says he doesn't intend to fire Rosenstein

President Trump said Monday that he has no plans to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, batting down for the time being any speculation that he intended to get rid of the official overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion by Trump campaign associates. Rumors that Rosenstein would quit or be fired began circulating after reports that he had suggested last year secretly recording conversations with Trump, and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. After talking with Rosenstein for about half an hour aboard Air Force One, Trump said the two had a "very good talk" and got along "very well." [USA Today]

5.

Erdogan demands proof from Saudi Arabia that journalist left consulate alive

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday demanded that Saudi Arabia provide proof that missing self-exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on his own. Khashoggi went into the consulate on Friday to pick up a document that would have permitted him to remarry the next day, but he hasn't been seen since. Erdogan's statement marked an escalation in diplomatic tensions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia over the case. Turkish officials say they believe Saudi agents killed Khashoggi inside the consulate. "Do you not have cameras and everything of the sort?" Erdogan said, directing his question to Saudi officials. "They have all of them. Then why do you not prove this? You need to prove it." [The Washington Post]

6.

Fox hires former White House aide Hope Hicks as communications director

New Fox, the successor to Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox, on Monday named President Trump's former White House communications director, Hope Hicks, as its head of corporate communications. Hicks, 29, will run communications for a company overseeing Fox News, the Fox broadcasting network, and other outlets under the control of Rupert Murdoch. Hicks' hiring is the latest in a series of moves linking Fox News personnel and the White House. Bill Shine, the network's former co-president, became White House deputy chief of staff for communications, effectively replacing Hicks. New Fox is the company emerging from 21st Century Fox's sale of many assets to Walt Disney Co. [The Washington Post]

7.

Alphabet to shut down Google+

Google is shutting down its Google+ social network to consumers after data from up to 500,000 users appeared to have been exposed to external developers due to a bug, the company announced in a blog on Monday. Google said it detected the problem and patched the leak in March. The company also said there was no evidence that any developers misused user data or exploited the vulnerability. Still, shares of Google parent Alphabet dropped by more than 1 percent on the news of the latest privacy glitch to affect a major tech company. The company reportedly plans to "wind down" Google+, which has "very low usage" among consumers anyway, by August 2019. It will be kept alive for businesses. [Reuters]

8.

Limo in deadly crash shouldn't have been on the road

The limousine that crashed in upstate New York over the weekend, killing 20 people, failed an inspection last month, and the driver lacked the license he needed to legally operate the vehicle, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Monday. An aunt of one of the victims said she texted concerns about the "terrible condition" of the limousine less than 20 minutes before it sped through an intersection, struck and killed two pedestrians, and slammed into a parked vehicle. All 18 people in the limo were killed. It was taking them to a birthday celebration. [USA Today]

9.

Toll from Haiti earthquake rises as aftershock fear lingers

The death toll from the 5.9-magnitude earthquake that hit northwestern Haiti over the weekend rose to at least 15 people on Monday, according to updated official figures. Another 333 people were reported injured. Thousands of people in the region's biggest city, Port-de-Paix, dragged mattresses out of their homes and slept outside after the quake and a 5.2-magnitude aftershock stoked panic in a country still traumatized by a deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake that devastated the Caribbean nation's capital, Port-au-Prince, and nearby cities in 2010. Port-de-Paix is about 10 miles from the Saturday earthquake's epicenter. Many people in the city were afraid to return to cinderblock homes cracked by the temblors. [The Associated Press]

10.

EU pledges support for investigation into Bulgarian journalist's murder

Bulgarian authorities are investigating whether the rape and murder of Viktoria Marinova, a 30-year-old Bulgarian journalist, was related to her work. Marinova, who was killed Saturday in the northeastern city of Ruse, recently had become the anchor of a talk show focused on investigative reporting. She was the third reporter killed in Europe over the last year. The European Union promised to support the investigation by Bulgarian authorities. Bulgarian Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said, however, that there was no evidence yet that Marinova was killed over her work. Bulgarian national radio reported that a suspect had been arrested in connection with the slaying. [The Washington Post, The Associated Press]