10 things you need to know today: October 16, 2018

Pompeo meets with Saudi king to discuss journalist's disappearance, a judge dismisses Stormy Daniels' defamation suit against Trump, and more

Stormy Daniels.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Pompeo meets with Saudi king to discuss journalist's disappearance

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Tuesday with King Salman in Saudi Arabia to discuss journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish agents searched the consulate overnight. The Saudi government is preparing to admit that Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was killed during an interrogation gone wrong, CNN reported Monday. This comes after Turkey said it had evidence that Saudi agents killed Khashoggi when he went to the consulate to pick up a document he needed to get married. President Trump on Monday raised the possibility that "rogue killers" might have been behind Khashoggi's disappearance, and sent Pompeo to Saudi Arabia. Trump said that when he spoke with the king, the Saudi leader denied "any knowledge of whatever may have happened."


2. Judge dismisses Stormy Daniels' defamation suit against Trump

A federal judge on Monday dismissed porn star Stormy Daniels' defamation lawsuit against President Trump and ordered her to pay Trump's legal fees. Daniels, who said she had sex with Trump in 2006, claimed that in 2011, after she agreed to discuss the affair in an interview, she was threatened by a man in a Las Vegas parking lot. Trump tweeted that her claim was a "total con job," and she was "playing the Fake News Media for Fools." Daniels sued, saying Trump defamed her by suggesting she was a liar, but Judge S. James Otero said the tweet "constitutes 'rhetorical hyperbole' normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States," and is protected by the First Amendment.

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The Washington Post

3. Federal deficit grows to largest in 6 years

The federal government ended the 2018 fiscal year with a $779 billion budget deficit, a 17 percent increase over the same period a year earlier and the biggest since 2012, according to Treasury Department data released on Monday. Economists had warned that last year's Republican tax cuts and rising government spending would widen the spending gap. The rising cost of interest payments on the national debt also was a factor. Borrowing has increased over the last year to make up for reduced revenue due to the tax cuts. Interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, which is nudging borrowing costs higher to keep the strengthening economy from overheating, also have contributed. President Trump has criticized the Fed for the rate hikes, saying it has "gone crazy."


4. Warren releases DNA test result to prove Native American ancestry

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday released the results of a DNA test to prove her Native American ancestry. Critics, most notably President Trump, have accused Warren of falsely claiming to have Native American ancestors to gain professional and other "advantages." Trump has mocked her by referring to her as "Pocahontas" and once suggested giving her a DNA test with the promise to donate $1 million to the charity of her choice if her claim proves true. Stanford University professor Carlos Bustamante conducted the analysis for Warren. He determined that the "vast majority" of her background was European, but she had a fully Native American ancestor going back six to 10 generations, which roughly aligns with what Warren and her brothers were told by their parents and grandparents.

USA Today

5. Democrats reap fundraising boost ahead of midterms

Democrats in hotly contested Senate and House races benefited from a surge in campaign donations ahead of the November midterm elections. At least 60 House Democratic candidates raised more than $1 million in the third quarter, from July to Sept. 30, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said as FEC filings for the quarter came due Monday night. In the closest 45 House races, Democrats have outraised Republicans in 32 by a combined margin of $46 million. Democratic Senate candidates have raised $212 million to the GOP's $164 million this election cycle. The Democratic small donor windfall is being partly offset by GOP mega-donors making eight-figure donations to Republican super PACs.

The Wall Street Journal The Washington Post

6. Trump visits hurricane-ravaged Florida, Georgia

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump on Monday surveyed damage from Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle and Georgia. They flew over some of the hardest hit areas by helicopter, then met with residents and handed out provisions. As he has after previous storms, Trump praised officials for doing an "incredible" job and following "right behind" Hurricane Michael. "We're doing more than has probably ever been done," Trump said. "They say that 50 years ago there was one that had this kind of power." The storm killed 18 people in four states, and the death toll could rise, as crews search for 25 to 30 people unaccounted for in hard-hit Mexico Beach, Florida.


7. Australian leader says he might recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Tuesday that he was open to moving his country's Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The comment by Morrison, who faces a crucial by-election in four days, prompted a backlash from Indonesian and Palestinian officials. "Indonesia asks Australia and other countries to support peace talks ... and not take steps that would threaten that peace process and stability of world security," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said. Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. Recognizing Jerusalem, which is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians, would mirror a move President Trump made in December and reverse decades of Australian policy.


8. ABA drops review of Kavanaugh rating

The American Bar Association plans to drop a review of its "well qualified" rating of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh now that the Senate has confirmed him, CNN reported Monday, citing an anonymous ABA official. The ABA's website says its policy is to close the matter of its ratings once a judge is confirmed. The ABA had taken the rare action of reviewing its rating, which Kavanaugh had cited as evidence of his worthiness, and calling for delaying his confirmation pending a thorough FBI investigation into decades-old sexual assault allegations against him. The ABA also was concerned about Kavanaugh's conduct during the committee's hearing on the allegation, which Kavanaugh forcefully and angrily denied, calling it part of a Democratic plot against him.


9. Former Senate panel staffer pleads guilty to lying to FBI

The former director of security for the Senate intelligence committee, James Wolfe, pleaded guilty Monday to lying to the FBI about his contact with a reporter. Wolfe pleaded guilty to one of the three charges he faced. Under the deal, prosecutors will seek to dismiss the other two at his December sentencing, where he could get from zero to six months in prison. Prosecutors said Wolfe told a reporter in October 2017 that he had subpoenaed a witness in the investigation into Russian election meddling and potential ties with the Trump campaign, and later lied to FBI agents about the matter. Wolfe's lawyers said he had "accepted responsibility for his actions," and they emphasized that Wolfe was never accused of compromising classified information.

The Associated Press The New York Times

10. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died Monday from complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, his family announced. He was 65. Allen revealed two weeks ago that he had suffered a recurrence of the cancer, which he was treated for several years ago, his company, Vulcan Inc., said. Allen and his childhood friend Bill Gates started Microsoft in 1975, selling software that revolutionized the personal computer industry. Allen later became the owner of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers. "My brother was a remarkable individual on every level," Allen's sister, Jody Allen, wrote in a statement. "While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend."

The Wall Street Journal ESPN

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