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Daily Briefing

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

Bonnie Kristian
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1.

Trump blames California fires on 'gross mismanagement' as death toll rises

"There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor," President Trump tweeted early Saturday. "Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!" California is currently suffering three major wildfires, one of which, the Camp Fire, is now the most destructive recorded in state history. The blaze destroyed the entire town of Paradise, north of Sacramento, and has killed at least nine people. About three dozen more remain missing. [The Hill, The Weather Channel]

2.

Trump slams Macron for 'European army' proposal while arriving in France

President Trump arrived in France Friday to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I and meet with world leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron. Moments after landing, Trump tweeted an attack on Macron's recent proposal to create a "true European army." "Very insulting," Trump wrote, "but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!" NATO members are required to devote 2 percent of GDP to defense spending, but most do not keep that promise. [CNN, Fox News]

3.

U.S. to stop refueling Saudi planes for strikes on Yemen

The United States will no longer provide midair refueling for Saudi planes conducting airstrikes in Yemen, the Pentagon and Saudi state media announced Friday. U.S. support — including refueling, intelligence sharing and tactical guidance, drone strikes, weapons sales, and more — has been crucial to the controversial intervention, in which the Saudi-led coalition has been accused of committing war crimes against the civilian population. The United States was refueling about 20 percent of Saudi strike flights and will maintain other means of support. The United Nations is pushing for peace talks by the end of November. [ABC News, NBC News]

4.

New restrictions limit routes for asylum-seeking migrants

President Trump on Friday signed a proclamation to restrict asylum claims, saying any migrant who crosses the border illegally will be blocked from seeking asylum. The Immigration and Nationality Act says anyone who arrives in the U.S. "whether or not at a designated port of arrival" may apply for asylum, but Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen claimed it is in the "national interest" to suspend or restrict migrant entry. "Our asylum system is overwhelmed with too many meritless asylum claims from aliens," they said in a statement. [Department of Justice, Bloomberg]

5.

Trump baselessly accuses Democrats of trying to steal elections

President Trump on Friday claimed "FRAUD" is taking place in Florida and Georgia, where gubernatorial and Senate races have tightened while votes continue to be counted. Without evidence, the president claimed Broward County "miraculously started finding Democrat votes" and promised to "expose" them. In another tweet, he sarcastically said to "blame the Russians," and in a third post, he claimed "SIGNATURES DON'T MATCH" on Arizona ballots, where officials are actively working to verify votes in the still-undecided Senate race. "Electoral corruption - Call for a new Election?" Trump wrote. "We must protect our Democracy!" [Donald J. Trump, USA Today]

6.

Trump falsely claims he doesn't know the new acting attorney general

"I don't know" new Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, President Trump said Friday, though The New York Times reports the two men have met in the Oval Office several times, and Whitaker has "an easy chemistry" with the president. Trump also said he and Whitaker have not discussed Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling, a probe which Whitaker will now oversee. And the president wondered to reporters why Mueller was not confirmed by the Senate. The answer is Mueller's current role did not require Senate confirmation. [The New York Times, CNBC]

7.

U.S., China clash over South China Sea

American and Chinese defense officials holding talks in Washington on Friday mutually criticized each other's military presence in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. "We have continued concerns about China's activities and militarization in the South China Sea," said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "We pressed China to live up to its past commitments in this area." Chinese diplomats, meanwhile, reiterated Beijing's frustration with the presence of U.S. Navy ships close to Chinese-claimed islands in the trade waterway. China is committed to "non-confrontation," Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi said, but will build "necessary defense facilities." [Reuters, The Associated Press]

8.

Rouhani claims no effect of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian economy

"The sanctions have had no impact on our economy because America had already used all the weapons at its disposal and there was nothing new to use against us," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday of the Trump administration's restoration of all the sanctions previously suspended by the Iran nuclear deal, from which President Trump withdrew the U.S. earlier this year. "[Washington] just issued a long list of banks, their branches ... and airlines and their planes. And this shows that they are merely trying to affect the Iranian nation psychologically." Rouhani has pledged Iran will not abide by the sanctions. [Reuters, Al Jazeera]

9.

Trump reportedly directed hush payments to bury alleged affairs

President Trump personally orchestrated multiple hush payments to women who say they had affairs with him ahead of the 2016 election, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. Trump reportedly met with National Enquirer publisher David Pecker in Trump Tower in 2015 and accepted Pecker's offer to pay for rights to stories from former Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn star Stormy Daniels to bury their allegations. The president previously claimed he had no knowledge of the payments before they happened, but his former attorney, Michael Cohen, has told federal prosecutors otherwise. The White House and Trump's attorney declined to comment. [The Wall Street Journal, The Week]

10.

Celebrities evacuate ahead of Southern California wildfire

Celebrities including Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian West, and Rainn Wilson were required to evacuate their homes in Malibu, Calabasas, and Thousand Oaks, Calfornia, on Friday as the Woolsey Fire threatened their neighborhoods. "I heard the flames have hit our property at our home in Hidden Hills but now are more contained and have stopped at the moment," West tweeted. "It doesn't seems like it is getting worse right now." The fire has already done unknown damage to Western Town, an Old West-themed set on the Paramount Ranch used in productions including Westworld. [Variety, CBS News]