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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 8, 2018

Bonnie Kristian
President Trump
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1.

Prosecutors say Cohen committed 'serious crimes worthy of meaningful punishment'

Federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York said in a sentencing recommendation Friday that Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney, committed "serious crimes worthy of meaningful punishment." Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office filed an additional memo saying Cohen's "crime was serious, both in terms of the underlying conduct and its effect on multiple government investigations." Cohen has pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and lying to Congress about the scrapped Trump Tower Moscow project. Mueller's team said his sentence "should reflect the fact that lying to federal investigators has real consequences." [The Washington Post, The Week]

2.

Mueller says Manafort lied about contact with Russian national, administration officials

Special Counsel Robert Mueller said in a court filing Friday that Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chair, lied repeatedly while cooperating with Mueller's investigation as part of his plea deal. Manafort told "multiple discernable lies" about his contact with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian employee of Manafort's political consulting firm who has ties to Russian intelligence, as well as Manafort's ongoing conversations with Trump administration officials. Manafort reportedly continued to relay messages to the administration through May 2018. Though much of the filing is redacted, it shows Mueller concludes Manafort breached his plea deal. [The Washington Post, The Week]

3.

Trump picks Barr as attorney general, Nauert as U.N. ambassador

President Trump announced Friday he will nominate William Barr as his next attorney general and State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to replace Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations. Barr served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993. If confirmed by the Senate, he will replace Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who stepped in when Trump ousted former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Nauert is a former Fox News host who came to the State Department in April 2017 with no government or foreign policy experience. [Bloomberg, The Associated Press]

4.

Hundreds arrested as protests resume in Paris

French authorities on Saturday searched and arrested about 700 people and detained around half of them as thousands of "yellow vest" protesters assembled in Paris for the fourth consecutive weekend. Police have blocked access to many major monuments after some demonstrators last weekend turned to rioting and vandalism. Originally prompted by a gas tax hike, the protests take issue with France's high cost of living more generally and the administration of French President Emmanuel Macron. The new fuel tax has been canceled, but the demonstrations continue with demands for Macron's resignation, higher wages, lower taxes, and more. [The New York Times, Reuters]

5.

John Kelly reportedly days from resignation

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is expected to resign his post in the Trump administration this month, multiple media outlets reported Friday. His relationship with President Trump has deteriorated to the point where the two "have stopped speaking," CNN reports, and Trump is "actively discussing" possible replacements. The leading candidate for the job is thought to be Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, a Trump loyalist who last year called for a "purge" of Republican lawmakers who do not support the president. [The Washington Examiner, The Week]

6.

Trump calls Rex Tillerson 'dumb as a rock'

President Trump responded angrily on Twitter Friday to recent comments from former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. "He was dumb as a rock and I couldn't get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell," Trump said of Tillerson in a post that also praised his successor, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Tillerson said on CBS News Thursday it was "challenging ... to go to work for a man who is pretty undisciplined, doesn't like to read." He also said he frequently had to stop Trump from violating laws and treaties. [Donald J. Trump, The Week]

7.

James Fields convicted of first-degree murder in Charlottesville killing

More than a year after self-proclaimed neo-Nazi James Fields rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the 21-year-old was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder and eight other charges. It took a jury of seven women and five men only seven hours to reach a verdict. They decided the Ohio native acted with premeditation when he drove into the counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of others. Fields still faces a federal trial for hate crimes that could result in the death penalty. [The Washington Post, NPR]

8.

Nightclub stampede kills 6 in Italy

Six people were killed and dozens more injured in a stampede at a nightclub in Corinaldo, Italy, early Saturday. A crowd of hundreds was waiting to see a rapper named Sfera Ebbasta when someone reportedly fired pepper spray inside the club. A stampede ensued, and protective railways by an emergency exit gave way. Five of those killed were teenagers between the ages of 14 and 16, and one, a 39-year-old woman, was accompanying her daughter to the concert. "These [victims] are young people," said Luigi Di Maio, Italy's deputy prime minister. "It's absurd to die this way." [BBC News, CNN]

9.

Uber files for IPO

Ride-sharing app Uber on Thursday quietly filed paperwork for an initial public offering (IPO), The Wall Street Journal and Reuters reported Friday evening, citing people familiar with the situation. Rival app Lyft announced its own IPO filing Thursday, and the two companies are expected to race each other to the investment market. Both have attracted billions in venture capital support, though Uber's haul of about $20 billion is four times larger than Lyft's backing. Uber also controls a larger portion of the ride share market. Both IPOs are expected in 2019. [The Wall Street Journal, Reuters]

10.

Avengers: Endgame trailer released

Marvel Studios on Friday released the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame, the much-anticipated follow-up to Avengers: Infinity War. The clip opens with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) stranded in space, expecting to die of starvation. Meanwhile, on Earth, the Avengers who survived Thanos' decimation of half of all life in the universe grapple with what happened, discussing a plan to undo the destruction. That plan isn't revealed, nor is much of the film's plot, though the trailer indicates Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) will return after sitting out Infinity War. [Marvel Studios, The Week]