Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 13, 2019

Bonnie Kristian
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images


Trump denies concealing Putin conversations from staff

President Trump has "gone to extraordinary lengths" to hide details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including from his own administration staff, The Washington Post reported Saturday evening. In one case, Trump reportedly took his own interpreter's notes from a call with Putin and told the interpreter not to discuss the talk with other officials. Trump vehemently denied the report in a phone interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro late Saturday, saying he'd happily share information on his meeting with Putin in Finland last year. "I'm not keeping anything under wraps," Trump said. "I couldn't care less." [The Washington Post, Politico]


Trump claims he has a shutdown plan, denies White House chaos

"I do have a plan on the Shutdown," President Trump tweeted Saturday. "But to understand that plan you would have to understand the fact that I won the election, and I promised safety and security for the American people. Part of that promise was a Wall at the Southern Border. Elections have consequences!" In earlier and subsequent posts, Trump denied reported chaos within his administration and promised the shutdown will continue "for a long time unless the Democrats come back from their 'vacations.'" The partial government shutdown reached its 22nd day Saturday, becoming the longest federal shutdown in U.S. history. [Politico, The Hill]


Pompeo pushes for resolution of Qatar dispute

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday urged Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain to end their blockade of Qatar, which the other four nations last summer accused of support for terrorism as well as Saudi rival state Iran. "We are all more powerful when we are working together and disputes are limited," Pompeo said from the Qatari capital of Doha. "When we have a common challenge, disputes between countries with shared objectives are never helpful." All five Gulf nations are U.S. partners, and Qatar hosts about 10,000 U.S. troops. [ABC News, Al Jazeera]


Biden reportedly told friends he wants to run in 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden has told friends he would like to run for president in 2020, Axios reported Saturday, joking, "If I'm walking, I'm running." Biden's younger brother also said last week he expects the campaign will happen. However, a formal decision is yet to be made, Axios' sources say, and an announcement is not yet scheduled. President Trump reacted to Biden's possible candidacy in an interview late Saturday, calling him "weak" and a "one-percenter" because Biden "ran two or three times, [but] he never got above 1 percent [of the vote]." [Axios, CNN]


Democrat Julian Castro announces 2020 run

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nod in his hometown San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday. Castro is the only Latino candidate and, at 44, among the youngest of anticipated contenders. "When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago," he said, "I'm sure she never could have imagined that just two generations later, one of her grandsons would ... be standing with you here today to say these words: I am a candidate for president of the United States of America." [Reuters, Politico]


Israel confirms Syria strikes, ends Lebanon border mission

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday took the unusual step of confirming his country has launched airstrikes on hundreds of Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria, most recently including an Iranian weapons storage facility in Damascus. Typically Israel does not publicly admit to conducting such strikes. Israel also announced Sunday the completion of an operation along its border with Lebanon following the discovery of a sixth and final tunnel dug from Lebanon to Israel by Hezbollah militants. [NBC News, The Associated Press]


France deploys 80,000 police to meet 'yellow vest' protesters

French police deployed some 80,000 officers around the country Saturday in response to the ninth straight weekend of "yellow vest" demonstrations protesting high taxes and cost of living in France, the administration of French President Emmanuel Macron, and more. An estimated 32,000 demonstrators turned out, with around 8,000 in Paris alone. Police again used tear gas and water cannons against activists in Paris after a subset of the mostly peaceful protesters reportedly threw stones, bottles, and paint. Macron has promised a "national conversation" this coming week to address the yellow vest concerns. [The Associated Press, The Hill]


Mass opioid overdose leaves 1 dead, 12 hospitalized in California

One person in Chico, California, was killed and 12 more hospitalized, four of them in critical condition, after a mass overdose in which police say the victims likely ingested the opioid fentanyl. Officers were called to a Chico home Saturday, and "found multiple individuals in what appeared to be life-threatening overdose conditions," said Michael O'Brien, Chico's police chief. They administered CPR and naxalone, an opioid antidote. Two of the responding officers were "potentially exposed" to the fentanyl and also received treatment at the hospital, though it was not immediately clear how the exposure occurred. [NBC News, Fox News]


Major snowstorm moves east after killing 7 in Midwest

At least seven people have died in connection to the major winter storm moving across an 1,800-mile stretch of the central United States over the weekend. Starting in Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri Friday, the storm moved into Midwestern states of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio Saturday, bringing up to a foot and a half of snow. On Sunday it is forecast to hit the East Coast, with Virginia and Washington, D.C., expected to get six to 10 inches of snow and ice, while the Southeast receives rain, freezing rain, and sleet. [Reuters, CNN]


Saudi teen refugee arrives in Canada

An 18-year-old woman named Rahaf Al-Qunun arrived in Canada Saturday after being granted asylum to avoid returning to her home country of Saudi Arabia. Al-Qunun fled her family while on a trip to Kuwait and flew to Thailand, where she barricaded herself in an airport hotel room while launching a social media campaign pleading for asylum. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday Al-Qunun would be welcomed to his country as a refugee. She was met at the airport in Toronto by Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who dubbed Al-Qunun "a very brave new Canadian." [The Associated Press, CNN]