Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 11, 2019

Harold Maass
Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax at the Virginia State Capitol
Drew Angerer/Getty Images


Border security talks stall as shutdown looms

Talks on border security stalled Sunday over immigration detention policy, threatening to derail negotiations on averting another partial federal government shutdown before a Friday deadline. After reports on Saturday that a deal was near, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a key GOP negotiator, said he was "not confident we're going to get there." He said it was "50-50" Democrats and Republicans could reach a deal, adding, "The specter of a shutdown is always out there." The 17 House and Senate lawmakers negotiating had set an informal deadline of Monday because that would leave enough time to pass legislation under standard procedural rules before Friday, when funding runs out under the deal that ended the record 35-day shutdown last month. [The New York Times, Reuters]


Virginia Democrats explore Fairfax impeachment over sexual assault allegations

Virginia Democratic lawmakers on Sunday circulated a draft resolution to start impeachment proceedings against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who faces sexual assault allegations by two women. Vanessa Tyson, a college professor, accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Another woman, Meredith Watson, came forward after Tyson to say that Fairfax assaulted her in 2000 when they both were students at Duke University. Fairfax has resisted calls to resign and said both encounters were consensual. Fairfax spokeswoman Lauren Burke said in a statement that he opposes the impeachment process but wants "a thorough, independent, and impartial investigation." [The Washington Post]


Klobuchar announces 2020 presidential bid

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Sunday formally joined an increasingly crowded field of candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination to challenge President Trump. Klobuchar announced her candidacy at a rally at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis. Klobuchar said she was running "for every worker, farmer, dreamer, and builder," describing herself as the "granddaughter of an iron-ore miner, as the daughter of a teacher and a newspaperman, as the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the state of Minnesota." Her announcement came a day after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) formally launched her 2020 presidential campaign at a rally in Lawrence, Massachusetts, telling supporters countering the Trump administration is "the fight of our lives." [The Washington Post, CNN]


Northam says he's 'not going anywhere' despite blackface scandal

Embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared Sunday that he "is not going anywhere" despite calls for his resignation. Northam has been under fire since the revelation of a photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook page showing a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe. Northam at first acknowledged being one of the people in the photo and then denied it, but said he had dressed in blackface at a 1980 party. He told CBS's Face the Nation that he plans to serve out his term focusing on racial healing. "Virginia needs someone that can heal. There's no better person to do that than a doctor," Northam said. He also said the state needs someone "strong" with a "moral compass." [The Associated Press]


Saudi Arabia says it has 'nothing to do' with Bezos-National Enquirer spat

Saudi Arabia's minister of state for foreign affairs said Sunday that his country had "absolutely nothing to do" with the National Enquirer's acquisition of intimate photos of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend. Bezos posted on a blog last week that the National Enquirer's parent company was trying to blackmail him by publishing the photos unless he declared publicly that the tabloid's reporting was not politically motivated. In the blog post, he suggested that Saudi Arabia was displeased with the way The Washington Post, which Bezos owns, had covered the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Post columnist. The Saudi minister, Adel al-Jubeir, told CBS's Face the Nation his government was not involved. "It sounds to me like a soap opera," he said. [Reuters, Politico]


Schiff says Mueller inquiry must focus on Trump finances

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday expressed concern that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had not focused enough scrutiny on President Trump's finances, particularly his relationship with Deutsche Bank, a German bank implicated in Russian money laundering. "We are not interested in our committee in whether he's a tax cheat or not worth what he says he is," Schiff said on NBC's Meet the Press. "What we are interested in is, does the president have business dealings with Russia such that it compromises the United States?" Schiff said that if Mueller has not issued a subpoena of Deutsche Bank, "he can't be doing much of a money laundering investigation." [The Washington Post]


France's 'Yellow Vest' protests continue for 13th weekend

French "Yellow Vest" protesters took to the streets for the 13th straight weekend of anti-government demonstrations. There were scattered reports of violent clashes between protesters and police on Saturday in Paris and cities in southern France. One protester was badly injured after picking up a police "sting-ball" crowd-dispersal grenade that exploded in his hand. The number of protesters in Paris appeared lower than in previous weeks, with the total estimated at 51,000, down from 84,000 in mid-January and more than 200,000 in the first protests. President Emmanuel Macron has tried to ease tensions with concessions, but protester demands have shifted from the scrapping of a gas tax increase, which the government has withdrawn, to calls for higher wages and lower taxes. [The New York Times]


Axios receives more Trump schedules despite White House hunt for leaker

Axios reported Sunday that it had received four of President Trump's daily schedules, despite an internal hunt for the person who leaked previous schedules showing large chunks of unstructured "executive time." The new schedules covered four days last week, and showed blocks of "executive time" covering 50 percent of Trump's time. More detailed private schedules that are not emailed to senior staff generally include one or two more meetings per day, with more detail about each entry. The White House reacted angrily to Axios' previous story. Trump secretary Madeleine Westerhout, on Twitter, called the leak "a disgraceful breach of trust." Trump tweeted Sunday: "When the term Executive Time is used, I am generally working, not relaxing." [Axios]


Newsom pulls most National Guard troops from California border

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Monday plans to order the withdrawal of most of the 360 National Guard members from the Mexico border. In released excerpts from the State of the State address he is to deliver on Tuesday, Newsom says he is giving the National Guard troops new missions so they can "refocus on the real threats facing our state," instead of participating in the Trump administration's "political theater" on the border. Newsom will redeploy National Guard troops to support wildfire prevention but leave specialists to help fight drug smuggling through international points of entry. "The Border 'emergency' is a manufactured crisis," Newsom will say Tuesday. Last week, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham pulled most of her state's troops from the border. [Los Angeles Times]


Grammys 2019: Kacey Musgraves, Childish Gambino, Cardi B win big

Kacey Musgraves' Golden Hour took home Album of the Year at Sunday's 61st annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Musgraves also won Best Country Solo Performance ("Butterflies") and Best Country Song ("Space Cowboy"). Other winners included Childish Gambino, who won Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Rap/Sung Performance for "This is America," and Cardi B, who became the first solo female performer to win Best Rap Album, for Invasion of Privacy. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Shallow" from A Star is Born; Ariana Grande won Best Pop Vocal Album for Sweetener; and Brandi Carlile took home multiple awards, including Best Americana Album for By The Way, I Forgive You. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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