Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 4, 2019

Harold Maass
The Patriots vs The Rams
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Trump says he'll keep troops in Iraq to 'watch Iran'

President Trump said Sunday that he planned to keep U.S. forces in Iraq as he withdraws troops from other war zones, because he wants to be able to monitor neighboring Iran. "I want to be able to watch Iran," Trump said on CBS News' Face the Nation, calling Tehran's government "a real problem." "We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq," he added. "It's perfectly situated." The president also said despite his plans to reduce the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and withdraw from Syria, the U.S. could quickly "come back if we have to." Iraqi President Barham Salih said Monday that Trump hadn't asked Iraq's permission to keep U.S. troops in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran. [CBS News, Reuters]


Super Bowl ratings slump 5 percent

Sunday night's Super Bowl received lower ratings compared to recent years, with a 5 percent decline from last year's championship game. Preliminary ratings show that about 45 percent of American households tuned into the game, which is still by far the largest audience of any other television event, but continues an ongoing ratings slip for the NFL. The New England Patriots won their second Super Bowl in three years, beating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3. It was the Patriots' sixth National Football League championship since 2001, and the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history. "With almost everyone except Patriots fans calling the low-scoring game a snooze, it's a wonder that the ratings weren't even lower," writes CNN.


Trump says military intervention an option in Venezuela

President Trump said Sunday that a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela was an option. On Monday, Spain, Britain, France, Portugal, Sweden, and other European nations recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's interim president, joining the U.S. and most South American nations in withdrawing support from embattled President Nicolas Maduro, who started a second term last month despite allegations that he won re-election by fraud. European Union nations had given Maduro a deadline of Sunday to call new presidential elections. In an interview with Spanish TV station Antena 3 broadcast Sunday, Maduro rejected the EU deadline, even though he proposed early parliamentary elections demanded by the opposition. "We don't accept ultimatums from anyone," he said. [Reuters, The Associated Press]


Pressure increases on Northam to resign

Pressure mounted Monday for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to resign after the surfacing of a photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page showing one man in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan robes. Many of the most forceful calls for him to step down came from political allies. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, under whom Northam served as lieutenant governor, said on Sunday on CNN's State of the Union that resigning is "morally the right thing to do." Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) said on NBC's Meet the Press that Northam was "apologetic" about the photo when they spoke on Friday, so he was "really surprised" when Northam later said he didn't believe he was one of the men in the photo. Speaking to staffers on Monday, Northam reportedly said he didn't want to resign and leave office branded as a "racist for life."


Poll: Most Americans don't want Trump to declare border emergency

A poll released Sunday found that 66 percent of Americans do not think President Trump should declare a national emergency to get his border wall built on the Mexican border, although 73 percent of Republicans think he should do it if necessary to get the barrier built. The CBS News poll found that 73 percent of respondents wanted Trump to keep the government open while negotiating with Democrats on border security. Seventy-five percent said Democrats should keep talking, too, rather than forcing a shutdown if a Feb. 15 deadline comes without a deal. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), a Republican member of the bipartisan group of lawmakers charged with negotiating an immigration deal, told Fox News Sunday that Trump "would be forced to go the national emergency route" if Democrats didn't bend to his demand for wall funding. [CBS News, Politico]


Pentagon announces deployment of 3,750 more troops to border

The Pentagon announced Sunday that it is sending about 3,750 more troops to the U.S.-Mexico border as President Trump continues to call for stepping up security to turn back a surge of Central American migrants. Trump referred to the approach of a caravan of about 3,500 Central American migrants as an "invasion" ahead of last November's midterm elections, and he sent the first wave of soldiers to back up border agents. With the latest deployment, the U.S. will have approximately 4,350 troops supporting border agents. The new deployment, approved by Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan three weeks ago, will last 90 days. The soldiers are conducting surveillance and placing concertina wire between border entry points. [CNBC]


Trump won't commit to releasing Mueller report

President Trump declined to commit Sunday to letting the public see the results of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and Moscow's ties to his campaign. In an interview that aired on CBS's Face the Nation, Trump said it was time to "get rid" of Mueller's inquiry, but he didn't know whether he would want the results released. "I don't know," he said. "It depends. I have no idea what it's going to say." Trump reiterated that he felt the attorney general ultimately should make the call on how to handle Mueller's findings. Last month, Trump's nominee for attorney general, William Barr, said in his Senate confirmation hearing that the special counsel's report could be shielded from broad release. [The New York Times]


ICE arrests rapper 21 Savage in Atlanta

Federal immigration agents arrested Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage in Atlanta early Sunday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Bryan Cox said. The agency said the rapper does not have proper paperwork to be in the country. 21 Savage, whose real name is Shayaabin Abraham-Joseph, is a British citizen who entered the U.S. legally in July 2005 as a minor, but stayed after his nonimmigrant visa expired in July 2006, according to Cox. ICE said "removal proceedings" had started. A lawyer for Abraham-Joseph, Dina LaPolt, said in a statement to CNN that his legal team is "working diligently" to "clear up any misunderstandings" about his status, calling him "a role model to the young people in this country, especially in Atlanta, Georgia," through his work leading programs to teach financial literacy to underprivileged youths. [CNN]


Small plane crashes into California house, killing 5

A small plane crashed into a home in Yorba Linda, California, on Sunday, killing five people. The victims include the pilot, who was the only person on the plane, and two women and two men who were inside the house, which caught fire, the Orange County Sheriff's Department said. Two other people were hospitalized with mild to moderate burns. The Cessna 414 took off from Fullerton Municipal Airport at 1:35 p.m., and started descending rapidly about 10 minutes into the flight. Neighbor Nancy Mehl told the Los Angeles Times "it felt like a bomb went off" when the plane slammed into the two-story house, sending a piece of the engine crashing through a pillar on her porch and through two rooms in her house. The plane's wreckage was scattered over four blocks. An investigation is now underway to determine the cause of the crash. [Los Angeles Times]


Bukele wins El Salvador's presidency

Nayib Bukele, the media-savvy former mayor of San Salvador, won El Salvador's presidential election on Sunday. Bukele, 37, ran as an outsider, and his dramatic win marked a sharp rebuke to the two parties, one right-wing and one left-wing, that have run the Central American nation since its devastating civil war in the 1980s. Bukele won nearly 54 percent of the vote in preliminary results, according to the electoral board. Supermarket executive Carlos Calleja, the conservative Arena Party candidate, came in second, and former Foreign Minister Hugo Martínez, who ran for the governing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, came in a distant third, with many of his party's voters backing Bukele. "Today we have turned the page on the postwar period," Bukele said. [The New York Times]