Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 27, 2018

Bonnie Kristian
Federal authorities took Cesar Sayoc into custody on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018, and confiscated his van, which appears to be this one covered in pro-Trump bumper stickers.
Lesley Abravanel/The Associated Press
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Florida man suspected of mailing pipe bombs charged with 5 federal crimes

A man was arrested in south Florida Friday in connection to the wave of suspicious packages sent to prominent lawmakers and Democratic donors this week. Cesar Sayoc, 56, was charged with five federal crimes after law enforcement discovered a fingerprint on one of the packages. Authorities on Friday confirmed packages addressed to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer were under investigation. More than a dozen other packages suspected of containing explosives were mailed to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Hillary Clinton, and former President Barack Obama, among others. Officials believe more packages may yet be found. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]


Package bomb suspect's van covered in pro-Trump stickers

The political loyalties Cesar Sayoc, the suspect arrested in connection to the package bombs mailed to prominent Democratic and media figures this past week, have come under scrutiny after authorities confirmed he is the owner of a van plastered with bumper sticks praising President Trump. Sayoc is reportedly a registered Republican. He's someone who "found a father in Trump," his family's attorney, Ron Lowy, said on CNN Friday night. Lowy theorized Sayoc "was attracted to the Trump formula of reaching out ... to these types of outsiders" and "telling them that it's okay to get angry." [NBC News, HuffPost]


Trump suggests pipe bombs are an attempt to hurt GOP in midterms

President Trump on Friday complained this week's bomb scare is hurting the GOP ahead of the midterm elections. "Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this 'Bomb' stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows — news not talking politics," he tweeted. Some on the right, including guests on Fox & Friends, have theorized the packages were a "false flag" effort by the left to boost Democrats' election chances. Also Friday, Trump said he'll "probably pass" on calling those, like former President Barack Obama, who were targeted by the bomb mailing suspect. [Donald J. Trump, Fox News]


Trump claims media uses bomb scare to 'score political points' against him

President Trump at a rally in North Carolina Friday night condemned political violence; said "everyone will benefit if we can end the politics of personal destruction;" and praised law enforcement efforts in capturing the man thought to be responsible for mailing package bombs to high-profile Democratic and media figures this week. But the president quickly pivoted to attacking the press. "We have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me," Trump said. His crowd chanted "CNN sucks;" CNN was one of the bomb package recipients. [The New York Times, NBC News]


Mattis says Khashoggi killing 'undermines regional stability' in Mideast

The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul will have a deleterious effect on Middle Eastern security, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Saturday. "With our collective interests in peace and unwavering respect for human rights in mind, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in a diplomatic facility must concern us all greatly," said Mattis. "Failure of any one nation to adhere to international norms and the rule of law undermines regional stability at a time when it is needed most." He did not explicitly accuse Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of complicity. [The Associated Press, Reuters]


White House invites Vladimir Putin to Washington

The White House has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington, D.C., National Security Adviser John Bolton said Friday. This would be President Trump's first time meeting with Putin in the United States, and the first time Putin has met with a president in America since 2015. The White House previously said Putin would come to Washington in the fall, but now, the visit is not expected to take place until 2019. Trump sparked outrage the last time he met with Putin by suggesting Russia had no reason to meddle in the 2016 election, contradicting U.S. intelligence agencies. [Reuters, The Week]


Pentagon to deploy more troops to southern border

"The secretary of defense has approved providing mission-enhancing capabilities to the Department of Homeland Security" at the southern border, the Pentagon said in a statement Friday. The announcement did not say how many troops would be sent, but a Thursday report suggested it would be around 800 deployed to provide "fencing, wall materials, and other technical support." Also Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Fox News there is no "intention right now" for the troops "to shoot at people" at the border, though they "do have the ability, of course, to defend themselves." [CNN, Politico]


U.S. economy grew at 3.5 percent rate in third quarter of 2018

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2018, the Commerce Department said Friday. This is a slight but expected decrease from the second quarter's growth rate of 4.2 percent, making the past two quarters the strongest pair since 2014. Consumer spending also increased by 4 percent in the third quarter, although business investment slowed by 0.8 percent after growing by 8.7 percent in the second quarter. The unemployment rate is currently at its lowest level in about 50 years. [The Washington Post, The New York Times]


GM pushes for national electric vehicle program

General Motors on Friday called for a national program modeled on California's zero-emission vehicle sales mandate. "A single, 50-state solution will help move the U.S. to a leadership position in electrification," said GM CEO Mary Barra. The company is expanding its fleet of electric cars and would benefit from such a "National Zero Emission Vehicle (NZEV) program." The proposal includes, among other elements, the extension of a federal tax credit for electric vehicle purchases that otherwise expires soon, plus a requirement that at least 25 percent of automakers' fleets be electric or hybrid vehicles, adjusted using a credit swap system. [Los Angeles Times, The Verge]


Megyn Kelly Today officially canceled

Megyn Kelly's NBC morning show is ending, the network confirmed Friday. Megyn Kelly Today went on hiatus after Kelly suggested Tuesday that dressing in blackface for Halloween is not offensive. She later apologized, but her show went off the air for the rest of the week. Reports soon said Kelly had been in talks to leave the show for weeks, and her impending departure had nothing to do with the comments. NBC gave no explanation for the cancellation, but said "next week, the 9 a.m. hour will be hosted by other Today co-anchors." [NBC News, The Week]