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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 12, 2019

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Bonnie Kristian
President Trump
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1.

FBI reportedly probed whether Trump worked for Russia after Comey firing

After President Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, the FBI opened an investigation into whether Trump was secretly acting in Russian interests against the United States, The New York Times reported Friday evening. The probe was specifically prompted by Trump's repeated linkage of the firing to the investigation into Russian election meddling, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller later took over the FBI inquiry. Trump responded angrily to the report on Twitter Saturday, describing it as a story of his own persecution. In subsequent tweets, he defended the Comey firing and claimed Comey and Mueller are "best friend[s]." [The New York Times, Fox News]

2.

Government shutdown becomes longest in U.S. history

The partial government shutdown on Saturday became the longest in U.S. history, with lawmakers stuck in a stalemate over President Trump's demand for $5.7 billion for border wall construction. Members of Congress departed for the weekend Friday with no funding deal in sight, ensuring the shutdown will last at least 23 days, breaking a 21-day record previously held during former President Bill Clinton's administration. Some 800,000 federal employees are furloughed or working without pay, most of them marking their first payday without a check on Friday. [NPR, The New York Times]

3.

Paris gas explosion kills 2, injures dozens

Two firefighters were killed and at least three dozen people injured, about a third of them seriously, by an explosion thought to be caused by a gas leak in Paris on Saturday. The firefighters were on the scene responding to the leak when the explosion occurred in a bakery. The blast damaged a number of nearby storefronts, flipped at least one car, and filled the street with broken glass. "I was sleeping and woke up by the blast wave," said a neighbor named Claire Sallavuard. "All the windows in the apartment exploded, doors were blown off their hinges." [BBC News, NBC News]

4.

Trump reportedly plans to raid Army disaster relief funds to build his wall

President Trump might seek to build up to 315 miles of his border wall by directing the Army Corps of Engineers to dip into a $13.9 billion pot approved last February to fund more than 50 disaster relief and prevention projects around the country, multiple outlets reported Friday. The money could be used if Trump declares a national emergency to circumvent Congress, though lawsuits are expected should the president pursue this course. The White House reportedly is also eyeing military construction funds for the wall. Congressional Democrats and some Republicans have opposed these plans. [ABC News, The Washington Post]

5.

Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announces presidential campaign

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) said on CNN Friday she intends to campaign for president in 2020. "I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week," Gabbard said. "There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I'm concerned about and that I want to help solve," she continued, listing "the issue of war and peace" as "central to the rest." Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro is expected to announce his own candidacy for the Democratic nod in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday. [CNN, Reuters]

6.

Tent facility for migrant children emptied

The last child on Friday left the massive tent facility built to house an overflow of migrant children in Tornillo, Texas, which once held as many as 2,500 minors. After migrant families were separated and detained under President Trump's zero tolerance immigration policy, established detention facilities quickly hit capacity. The Tornillo tent city was built to hold the influx of child detainees, after which loosened policies allowed this and similar facilities to slowly empty. The Department of Health and Human Services says the migrant children will be released to sponsors or family members in the U.S. or transferred to other facilities. [Rep. Will Hurd, The Week]

7.

GOP Rep. Steve King faces possible censure over white supremacy comments

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said in a floor speech Friday he regrets causing "heartburn" with comments reported Thursday in which he wondered why terms like "white nationalist" and "white supremacist" became "offensive." Some congressional Democrats have pushed for a formal censure of King, while others have suggested he lose his subcommittee seniority. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the Senate's only black Republican, on Friday published an op-ed saying King's views "should be ridiculed at every turn possible" and slamming Republicans who have not condemned King's words. [The Hill, The Week]

8.

Sandy Hook families win legal victory against Infowars' Alex Jones

Six families related to victims of 2012's Sandy Hook school shooting will be able to access conspiracy website Infowars' internal financial documents, a judge ruled Friday. The families sued Infowars founder Alex Jones for perpetuating a hoax claiming the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting didn't happen, resulting in harassment and death threats against the families from his followers. The Connecticut judge granted discovery requests to the families and will hold a hearing next week to decide whether the plaintiffs can depose Jones. [ABC News, The Washington Post]

9.

Florida governor pardons 4 wrongly convicted of rape in 1949

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Friday issued posthumous pardons for the "Groveland Four," four black men who were wrongly convicted of raping a white girl near Orlando in 1949. "I don't think there's any way that you can look at this case and see justice was carried out," DeSantis said. "For the Groveland Four, the truth was buried. The perpetrators celebrated, but justice has cried out from that day until this." The Florida State House issued an apology to the four men's families in 2017. [Miami Herald, CNN]

10.

Winter storm to stretch from Colorado to East Coast

Residents across an 1,800-mile swath of the United States, from Colorado to the East Coast, are preparing for winter weather to bring snow, sleet, and icy conditions over the weekend. Meteorologists say the storm could affect around 40 million people, with Missouri and Illinois likely receive the most snow — up to 16 inches in some areas — and mid-Atlantic cities like Washington and Pittsburgh seeing only a few inches. "The storm is expected to create havoc over the central part of the country, then extend eastward into the mid-Atlantic states," said meteorologist Randy Adkins. [USA Today, Reuters]