10 things you need to know today: December 22, 2018

Partial government shutdown begins, Trump blames Democrats for shutdown, and more

The U.S. Capitol is seen ahead of a government shutdown, December 21, 2018
(Image credit: Saul Loeb/Getty Images)

1. Partial government shutdown begins

The federal government officially entered a partial shutdown Saturday at midnight after the Senate adjourned Friday without passing a stopgap funding measure. President Trump has said he will not sign a new spending bill unless it includes $5 billion for his promised border wall expansion. The House passed a bill honoring Trump's request which is not expected to pass the Senate. Most federal agencies are funded through September, so the shutdown will only affect seven Cabinet-level departments — Homeland Security, Transportation, Commerce, Interior, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and Justice — as well as some independent agencies like NASA and the IRS.

CBS News NBC News

2. Trump blames Democrats for shutdown

President Trump on Friday sought to shift the blame for the partial government shutdown onto congressional Democrats. "If enough Dems don't vote" for the border wall funding Trump has demanded, "it will be a Democrat Shutdown!" he tweeted. In another tweet, he suggested the shutdown will "last for a very long time." Trump previously promised Democratic leaders he would not point fingers at them should a shutdown occur. "I will be the one to shut it down," he said last week. "I'm not going to blame you for it."

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Donald J. Trump The Week

3. Supreme Court rebuffs Trump on asylum restrictions

The Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision Friday decided not to lift a temporary restraining order that prevents the Trump administration from enforcing its asylum restrictions. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's left wing in the majority opinion, upholding a federal district court ruling which said the president can't "rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden." Trump in November signed a proclamation denying asylum claims made by those who enter the United States outside of official ports of entry. Current law permits such claims.

The New York Times The Week

4. Trump signs bipartisan First Step Act

President Trump on Friday signed the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill which received support from a wide range of lawmakers and advocacy organizations. Though criticized by some on the left as too cautious and by opponents on the right as too lenient, the First Step Act was championed in the White House by Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. "The First Step Act is by no means perfect," said the ACLU's Jesselyn McCurdy. "But we are in the midst of a mass incarceration crisis, and the time to act is now."

The Guardian Jurist

5. Mattis departure sparks fears of unstable foreign policy

President Trump's Thursday announcement of Defense Secretary James Mattis' resignation caused shock across the political spectrum. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Mattis' departure signaled "a series of grave policy errors," while Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) called it "scary" to see this "island of stability" leave the administration. Mattis' resignation came as Trump announced plans to withdraw troops from Syria and reportedly gave orders to draw down the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan as well. Mattis tried to convince Trump to keep U.S. forces in Syria and has opposed withdrawal from Afghanistan in the past.

The Associated Press Foreign Policy

6. Dow sees worst week since 2008

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell another 416 points Friday, capping off a total loss of 1,600 to mark the Dow's worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. The S&P 500 dropped 2 percent and is down 17.7 percent from its high in August. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.99 percent Friday and officially entered a bear market, down 22 percent from an August peak. The Dow and the S&P 500 have had their worst December since the Great Depression. Stocks usually rally as the holidays approach, but the Federal Reserve's decision to increase interest rates prompted selloffs.

CNBC The New York Times

7. Trump reportedly lashed out at Whitaker over Cohen prosecution

President Trump has at least twice vented his frustrations about the prosecution of his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, at his acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, CNN reported Friday. The president is angry Cohen's case and revelations have shown him in poor light, CNN's sources said, and he asked Whitaker why he has not reined in prosecutors under his purview at the Department of Justice. Cohen has pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and lying to Congress. Federal prosecutors said this month he has committed "serious crimes worthy of meaningful punishment."

CNN The Hill

8. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg undergoes surgery to remove cancerous growths

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is recovering after undergoing surgery to remove two malignant growths in her lungs, the Supreme Court said in a statement Friday. Two nodules were found during tests taken when Ginsburg was hospitalized last month after breaking two ribs in a fall, and an evaluation determined that they were malignant. Doctors do not plan for any further treatment after this surgery, and Ginsburg previously survived cancer twice. "Wishing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a full and speedy recovery!" President Trump tweeted Friday evening.

CNN The Week

9. U.K. police arrest 2 for Gatwick drone

Police in the United Kingdom have arrested two people, a 47-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman, in connection to the recreational drone that disrupted flights for three days at London's Gatwick Airport this week. About 140,000 passengers were affected when around 1,000 flights were grounded or rescheduled because of the drone sightings, but Gatwick is expected to return to normal operations Saturday. "Our investigations are still ongoing," said a police statement, "and our activities at the airport continue to build resilience to detect and mitigate further incursions from drones, by deploying a range of tactics."

Reuters BBC News

10. Obama guest stars in Hamilton remix

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda dropped his final monthly remix from the hit musical with a surprise message from former President Barack Obama. Chris Jackson reprises his role as George Washington in "One Last Time (44 Remix)," which depicts Washington's final message before stepping down as president. Midway through the song, Obama reads a segment of George Washington's farewell address, discussing his "many errors" as president and subsequent retirement. Miranda also tweeted a photo of Obama working on the song.

Lin-Manuel Miranda The New York Times

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