Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 21, 2019

Harold Maass
Tom Brady wins again
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Giuliani: Trump Tower Moscow talks continued through 2016 campaign

President Trump's representatives pursued a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow nearly until the 2016 presidential election, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Sunday. "It's our understanding that they (the discussions) went on throughout 2016," Giuliani told NBC's Meet the Press. "Probably up to, could be up to as far as October, November. ... But the president's recollection of them is that the thing had petered out quite a bit." During the campaign, Trump denied having any business dealings with Russia. His former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has admitted to lying to Congress when he said discussions about the Moscow deal, which never came to pass, ended in January 2016. [Reuters]


Rams and Patriots win in overtime, advancing to Super Bowl

The Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots on Sunday won spots in Super Bowl LII, both in overtime. The Rams came back from a 13-point deficit to upset the New Orleans Saints 26-23 in the NFC title game. The Patriots, also underdogs, beat the Kansas City Chiefs to take their fourth AFC championship in five years. The upsets set up a Feb. 3 rematch of a game that launched Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to greatness 17 years ago. Brady, who at age 41 is now the winningest quarterback in NFL postseason history, will be making his ninth Super Bowl appearance, and his fourth in five years. Rams quarterback Jared Goff, 24, will be making his first trip to the big game. [SB Nation, The Washington Post]


Harris joins field of Democrats running for president in 2020

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced Monday that she is running for president in 2020. Harris, a former California attorney general serving her first term in the Senate, joins an increasingly crowded field of Democrats seeking their party's nomination to challenge President Trump. Harris confirmed her decision on ABC's Good Morning America on the morning of the holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. If she wins, she will be the second African-American and first woman to win the Oval Office. She says in her first campaign video that she is a fighter for justice, decency, and equality, values she says are "all on the line" in the next presidential election. [The Washington Post, The Associated Press]


Trump and Pelosi clash as shutdown continues

President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) traded barbs on Sunday after Democrats rejected Trump's proposal to end the government shutdown. Trump offered to temporarily extend protections against deportation for some young undocumented immigrants and people fleeing disasters in exchange for the $5.7 billion he is demanding for his border wall. Democrats said the three years of protections Trump was offering fell short. Trump tweeted that Pelosi "is so petrified of the 'lefties' in her party that she has lost control." Pelosi tweeted back, calling on Trump to "re-open the government, let workers get their paychecks, and then we can discuss how we can come together to protect the border." Some conservatives also criticized Trump's proposal, saying it amounted to amnesty for illegal immigrants. [The Washington Post, The Associated Press]


Student denies he was mocking Native American activist in viral video

A white Kentucky high school student on Sunday denied he was mocking a Native American activist in an incident near the Lincoln Memorial captured in a video that went viral. Nick Sandmann, a student at an all-male Catholic high school, is seen wearing one of President Trump's signature red Make America Great Again hats, and standing face to face with Indian activist Nathan Phillips. Sandmann said his group was waiting for their bus to go home after an anti-abortion rally, when four African American protesters shouted racially charged insults. Sandmann said in a statement he was trying to "diffuse the situation" by remaining calm. Phillips says he walked between the two groups to pray and ease the tensions. [Reuters]


Winter storm brings dangerous sub-zero temperatures to Northeast

A major winter storm pushed from the Midwest into the Northeast on Sunday, bringing snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures to many areas, and making travel difficult across the region on the Martin Luther King Day holiday. Wind chills will drop temperatures into the teens in New York City and as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit in upstate New York, the National Weather Service predicted. Temperatures will hit 20 degrees below zero around Boston, and as low as 35 below in Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. The storm caused power outages, traffic jams, and canceled airline flights over the weekend. "It's life-threatening," said Ray O’Keefe, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Albany. "These are dangerous conditions that we're going to be in and they're prolonged, right through [Monday]." [The Associated Press]


Theresa May drops talks on cross-party Brexit compromise

British Prime Minister Theresa May told her Cabinet on Sunday that she had refused demands for compromise with opposition parties on her Brexit deal. After her plan's historic defeat in the House of Commons last week, May is expected to unveil her "Plan B" on Monday. May reportedly plans to appeal to reluctant fellow Conservatives and other allies by trying to "remove the Irish backstop," which essentially would keep Britain in the European Union customs territory after Brexit if there is no trade deal in place preserving an open border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., and Ireland, an EU member. To succeed, she will have to get concessions from EU, which says the current deal is final. [Sky News, Business Insider]


Al Qaeda-linked group kills 10 U.N. peacekeepers in Mali

Al Qaeda-linked Islamist extremists killed 10 United Nations peacekeepers and wounded at least 25 in northern Mali in one of the deadliest attacks on a U.N. mission in months, the U.N. secretary-general's office said in a statement Sunday. The assault targeted the camp of peacekeepers from Chad, who "responded robustly and a number of assailants were killed," according to the statement. The U.N. has 15,000 peacekeepers in the West African nation to fight jihadists alongside Malian forces, a five-nation regional counterterrorism force, and France's largest overseas military operation. Peacekeepers from Chad have faced repeated attacks in Mali. As of the end of 2018, 51 had died while serving in the U.N. mission. [The Associated Press]


Death toll rises to 85 in Mexico pipeline explosion

The death toll from a Friday pipeline explosion in central Mexico has risen to 85, Mexican Health Minister Jorge Alcocer Valera said late Sunday. Dozens of people remained missing; 58 survivors were being treated in hospitals, including a minor who suffered burns and was transferred to Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas. The victims were engulfed in flames as many of them tried to carry off gasoline that was gushing from a punctured pipeline in a spot where fuel thieves often siphoned off gas. The pipeline belongs to Petroleos Mexicanos or Pemex, the state-run oil company. The state and federal governments are paying for victims' medical care and funerals. [NBC News]


China economic growth falls to slowest pace in 28 years

China reported Monday that its economic growth fell from 6.9 percent in 2017 to 6.6 percent in 2018, a 28-year low. The slowdown has been sharper than expected, as both export demand and domestic consumption weaken. Fourth quarter GDP growth came in at 6.4 percent, in line with expectations. "Downward pressure on the economy is increasing," the commissioner of the National Bureau of Statistics, Ning Jizhe, said, citing import controls, financial-market volatility, and declining investment spending. Ning Jizhe said China's trade dispute with the U.S. had affected China's economy, the world's second largest, although Beijing has been able to manage the impact. China's top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, is heading to Washington, D.C., for two days of trade talks starting Jan. 30. [The Associated Press, CNBC]