10 things you need to know today: December 13, 2018

Theresa May survives a leadership challenge over Brexit, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is sentenced to three years, and more

Theresa May at Downing Street
(Image credit: Jack Taylor / Stringer/ Getty Images)

1. Theresa May wins confidence vote despite Brexit plan opposition

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday won a confidence vote called over the turmoil surrounding her deal on Britain's departure from the European Union. The victory by a 200-117 vote meant that May will keep her job for another year but remain weakened by opposition to her leadership. May postponed a vote on her Brexit plan this week, facing rejection by lawmakers who say she is giving away too much to the European Union ahead of the U.K.'s March exit from the trading bloc. To rally support and survive the vote, May said she would not seek to remain leader of the ruling Conservative Party beyond the next election.

CNBC The Associated Press

2. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen sentenced to three years

President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for lying to Congress and for financial crimes. Cohen, who also was ordered to pay more than $1 million for unpaid taxes, pleaded guilty in August to eight counts of tax evasion and campaign finance violations filed by New York prosecutors. Cohen implicated Trump in that plea, and affirmed Wednesday he took "responsibility" for his "blind loyalty" to the president. Cohen got two more months for his late November deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in which he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump's business dealings with Russia. That sentence will be served concurrently with the three-year sentence.

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3. France calls Christmas market shooting an act of terrorism

The shooting that left two dead at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, was a terrorist attack, the Paris prosecutor said Wednesday. A third victim earlier reported as having died was listed as "brain dead." Eight of the injured were in critical condition. The gunman, who French news media identified as Cherif Chekkatt, a 29-year-old man with a long criminal record, was known by authorities as a potentially dangerous extremist. He fled in a commandeered taxi, telling the driver that police had searched his house that morning and found a grenade. Those details helped authorities identify him. Police believe he was shot in the hand during an exchange of gunfire, and he is the subject of an intense manhunt.

The Washington Post

4. Pelosi reaches deal with dissidents limiting her to 4 years as speaker

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Wednesday that she had reached a deal with critics in the Democratic Party that would set her up to be speaker of the House when Democrats take control in January, but limit her to four years in the position. The deal is expected to end a rebellion against Pelosi, the party's long-time leader and the first woman to have served as speaker of the House. She held the job from 2007 to 2011. A small group of defectors in the diverse new Democratic majority elected last month had threatened to oppose her, saying it was time for new leadership.

The New York Times

5. National Enquirer publisher admits paying hush money to aid Trump campaign

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday announced a non-prosecution agreement with American Media, Inc., the National Enquirer's parent company. As part of this agreement, prosecutors said the publisher admitted it paid Karen McDougal, one of the women who says she had an affair with President Trump in 2006, to "suppress" her story and "prevent it from influencing the election." AMI has also told prosecutors it made this payment "in concert with" Trump's campaign. Trump's ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison after violating campaign finance laws by arranging this $150,000 payment. Trump has denied McDougal's allegations.

NBC News Reuters

6. Senate advances resolution against Saudi coalition in Yemen

The Senate voted Wednesday to advance a resolution seeking to end U.S. military support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen. Eleven Republicans joined Democrats to provide the 60-vote majority needed to move the legislation forward in a rare bipartisan split with President Trump. The resolution set up another vote on U.S. involvement in the conflict, which has created a devastating humanitarian disaster. The vote essentially was symbolic, however, because House Republicans are not expected to consider the issue this year. Still, supporters of the legislation said it showed that lawmakers wanted no part in the conflict, and were unhappy with the U.S. response to the alleged high-level Saudi involvement in the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.


7. House approves compromise farm bill without food stamp work requirements

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed the compromise farm bill 369-47, sending the sweeping agriculture and nutrition measure to President Trump for his signature. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said he had "all the confidence in the world" that Trump would sign the bill into law. The vote ended eight months of wrangling over the bill. House and Senate negotiators had been deadlocked over food stamps as recently as November, with House Republicans demanding stricter work requirements that would have bumped 1.5 million people from the food stamp program. All controversial GOP proposals on the food stamp program were removed from the compromise bill.


8. Trump removes Meadows from short list of chief of staff candidates

President Trump on Wednesday told Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) that he was out of the running in the search for a new White House chief of staff to replace John Kelly, The Washington Post reported, citing White House officials. "Congressman Mark Meadows is a great friend to President Trump and is doing an incredible job in Congress. The President told him we need him in Congress so he can continue the great work he is doing there," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement to the Post. Meadows had been considered a leading contender, so the decision shook up the search.

The Washington Post

9. Senate passes bill seeking to reverse Trump donor disclosure policy

The Senate on Wednesday approved legislation seeking to reverse a Trump administration policy limiting donor disclosure requirements for political nonprofits. The 50-49 vote amounted to a rare rebuke to the White House, with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine joining every Democrat to pass the measure, which would block a Treasury Department change allowing political nonprofits to withhold the identification of some donors on IRS forms. Supporters said the legislation would make it harder for foreigners and special interests to corrupt U.S. elections with "dark money." The Republican-controlled House is considered unlikely to debate the measure, which is opposed by conservative groups.


10. A Star Is Born leads Screen Actors Guild nominees

The Screen Actors Guild released its annual awards nominations on Wednesday. Lady Gaga's and Bradley Cooper's A Star Is Born led in film categories with four nominations, including Best Actor for Cooper and Best Actress for Lady Gaga. A Star Is Born also was among the nominees for the top category of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, along with Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Crazy Rich Asians. Historically, one of these films is likely to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Black Panther is a strong contender after being recognized at the Golden Globe Awards and the Critics' Choice Awards. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Ozark led among TV shows with four nominations each. The ceremony is on Jan. 27.


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