Daily briefing

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

Nikki Haley announces that she will resign as U.N. ambassador, Hurricane Michael barrels toward the Florida Panhandle, and more


Nikki Haley to leave as Trump U.N. ambassador

President Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said on Tuesday that she was resigning at the end of the year. It is yet another high-level departure to hit an administration already rocked by repeated shake-ups. The announcement by Haley, a former governor of South Carolina and one-time Trump critic, took many world leaders and administration officials by surprise. Haley has been mentioned as a possible 2020 presidential candidate, but she said she did not plan to run. She promised to instead campaign for Trump's re-election. Haley said she had no other immediate plans, but that she had served six years as governor and nearly two as U.N. ambassador, so it was time for someone else to step in. In a joint appearance with Trump, she said representing the U.S. at the U.N. "has been an honor of a lifetime." Trump said she had "done a fantastic job."


Hurricane Michael strengthens into 'extremely dangerous' Category 4 storm

Hurricane Michael strengthened into a major Category 4 storm on Tuesday as it barreled through the Gulf of Mexico toward the Florida Panhandle, threatening to hammer the state on Wednesday with winds as high as 140 mph and a life-threatening storm surge of up to 13 feet. Forecasters warned it could be the most powerful storm on record to hit the Florida Panhandle. Parts of Florida started feeling tropical storm-force winds overnight, with landfall projected Wednesday afternoon. Evacuations were ordered in parts of 10 counties, with more than 100,000 people ordered to leave low-lying areas. "It will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous," Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said. "You cannot hide from this storm."


Kavanaugh hears first arguments as a Supreme Court justice

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is officially back to work. Kavanaugh joined the court Tuesday about a week after the start of the new term and heard his first oral arguments in a case having to do with repeat offenders' prison sentences. Chief Justice John Roberts reportedly wished him a "long and happy career" on the bench before the court began. On Wednesday, he'll hear a case about whether the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to detain certain undocumented immigrants without a bond hearing. Kavanaugh is expected to shift the court's ideological bent to the right, although he pledged Monday night to be "independent" and "impartial."


Supreme Court puts Wilbur Ross deposition on hold

The U.S. Supreme Court late Tuesday temporarily blocked an order for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and a top Justice Department official to be questioned on the decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put the looming depositions, requested by for states that are suing over the matter, on hold while the high court reviews the government's request to shield the officials from the depositions. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier Tuesday that Ross would have to provide a court-ordered deposition. Justice Department lawyers had previously said they would appeal to the Supreme Court if lower courts approved the rare deposition of a sitting Cabinet member.


Trump says Fed interest-rate hikes unnecessary

President Trump on Tuesday resumed his criticism of the Federal Reserve for steadily raising interest rates even though inflation is under control near the Fed's target rate of 2 percent. "I like to see low interest rates," Trump told reporters on the White House lawn before leaving for an Iowa event. "The Fed is doing what it thinks is necessary but I don't like what they're doing because we have inflation really checked, and we have a lot of good things happening." Trump has complained numerous times that the Fed, which has raised interest rates three times this year and is expected to make one more increase this year, is hiking rates too fast and holding back the economy.


Trump calls rivals 'wacko,' Democrats shift focus away from Kavanaugh

President Trump continued his attacks on Democrats Tuesday, calling them "unhinged" and "wacko" during an Iowa rally a day after a White House ceremonial swearing-in of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. "The Democrats have become too extreme and, frankly, they've become too dangerous to govern," Trump said, escalating criticism he began after Kavanaugh was confirmed despite Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that he sexually assaulted her decades ago when they were in high school. Trump's speech was part of a Republican effort to depict Democrats and anti-Kavanaugh protesters as an "angry left-wing mob." Democrats shifted away from Kavanaugh after their losing fight against Kavanaugh's confirmation, and began focusing on health care and other issues ahead of the November midterm elections.


Turkey says Saudi leaders ordered murder of missing journalist

A senior Turkish official told The New York Times on Tuesday that security officials have determined that missing Saudi dissident journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday on orders of the royal court. Khashoggi was at the consulate to pick up a document he needed to get married, and was killed within two hours of his arrival, the official said. Turkey says 15 Saudi agents arrived in Istanbul on two charter flights the same day Khashoggi went to the consulate, and left a few hours later. One of those agents was an autopsy expert, the official told the Times, and security officials believe he helped with dismembering Khashoggi's body. Saudi Arabia denies killing Khashoggi.


South Korea considers lifting some sanctions against North Korea

South Korea's foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, said Wednesday that her country is considering lifting some of its unilateral sanctions against North Korea to improve relations with Pyongyang and boost momentum toward a deal on denuclearization. South Korea effectively shut down nearly all cross-border economic cooperation after a 2010 attack on a warship that killed 45 South Korean sailors. The 2010 "May 24 measures" also banned North Korea from using South Korean shipping lanes. South Korea's sanctions "now duplicate" some United Nations sanctions, Kang said. Lifting South Korea's measures would not affect U.S.-led international sanctions, which remain in place as denuclearization talks continue. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called engagement between the North and South a key to resolving the nuclear standoff.


Supreme Court upholds North Dakota voter ID law challenged by Native Americans

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that North Dakota could enforce a controversial voter ID law in the 2018 elections. A group of Native American residents challenged a new state law requiring voters to present identification with a current residential street address, arguing it would disenfranchise Native Americans, a key Democratic constituency, disproportionately because many Native American voters live on reservations without standard addresses. The Supreme Court denied an urgent request submitted to Justice Neil Gorsuch to keep the law from being implemented in November. The court denied the request without explanation. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, citing the risk of "voter confusion." The decision was seen as a setback for Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's (D-N.D.) already uphill re-election bid.


Prison authorities confirm Anthony Weiner to be released early

Former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), sentenced last year to 21 months for sexting with a teenage girl, will be released from prison early for "good conduct," a federal Bureau of Prisons spokesperson confirmed Tuesday. Weiner had been set for release in August 2019, but the date has been moved up three months to May 14. Weiner was a rising star in the Democratic Party until an earlier scandal in which he sent a sexually explicit image to a woman via Twitter in 2011. He resigned, then another sexting scandal derailed his brief 2013 bid for New York City mayor. After he pleaded guilty in May 2017 to sexting with a teenage girl, his wife, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, sued for divorce.


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