Daily Briefing

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

Harold Maass
Trump in a cabinet meeting
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Trump unhappy with deal but doesn't expect shutdown

President Trump on Tuesday said he was "not happy" about the tentative deal lawmakers negotiated to avoid another government shutdown. While sources reportedly told CNN Trump intends to sign the deal, Trump himself only said, "I don't think you're going to see a shutdown." The deal includes $1.375 billion for new fencing on the Mexican border, far less than the $5.7 billion Trump demanded for a wall, which led to the impasse behind the shutdown in December. Trump said he already was "using other methods" to build border barriers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he had urged Trump to back the compromise. "I hope he'll sign it," McConnell said. "I think he got a pretty good deal." [The New York Times, CNN]


Jury finds Mexican drug kingpin 'El Chapo' Guzman guilty

A New York jury on Tuesday found Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman guilty on 10 charges spanning more than two decades, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise and distributing massive amounts of drugs internationally. Guzman, 61, will be sentenced in June. Richard Donoghue, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said he expected Guzman to get life in prison with no possibility of parole. "It is a sentence from which there is no escape and no return," he said. Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty in talks to get Mexico to extradite him. Jeffrey Lichtman, one of Guzman's defense attorneys, said it was "an absolute honor and a pleasure" to represent Guzman. He said the defense team would appeal, and continue fighting the way it did in this trial, "like complete savages." [NBC News]


U.S. commander: North Korea's military has made 'little to no verifiable change'

Gen. Robert Abrams, the top U.S. commander on the Korean Peninsula, told senators on Tuesday that despite easing tensions and "public statements of intent to denuclearize," North Korea has made "little to no verifiable change" in its military capabilities since President Donald Trump's first summit with Kim Jong Un last summer. Abrams told the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea's "conventional and asymmetric capabilities" continue to represent a threat to the U.S., South Korea, and other allies. The assessment came as Trump faces pressure to show signs of progress ahead of his second meeting with Kim, which is scheduled for Feb. 27 and 28 in Vietnam. [CNN]


National debt rises above $22 trillion for first time

The national debt has risen above $22 trillion for the first time, the Treasury Department reported Tuesday. Over the last month, the national debt increased by $30 billion to $22.012 trillion. The debt has been rising faster since Republicans passed President Trump's 2017 tax cuts, and rose by more than $1 trillion in just the last 11 months. An increase in domestic and military spending has contributed, too. Experts say this could lead to an increase in interest rates, and make it more difficult for the government to cover programs. The national debt was at $19.95 trillion when Trump took office. [USA Today]


Retired astronaut Mark Kelly announces bid for Arizona Senate seat

Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, announced Tuesday that he will run in 2020 to finish the term of the late Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) Senate seat. Kelly, who was thrust into the public eye when Giffords survived an assassination attempt and mass shooting in 2011, is seeking the Democratic nomination to unseat Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who was appointed to the seat after narrowly losing to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) in the race for former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake's spot. "I care about people. I care about the state of Arizona. I care about this nation," Kelly said in a video posted to his Twitter account, adding that he would fight for affordable health care, jobs, and action against climate change. [Fox News]


White House correspondents condemn attack on cameraman at Trump rally

The White House Correspondents' Association on Tuesday condemned an attack against a BBC News cameraman at President Trump's Monday night rally in El Paso, Texas. Eleanor Montague, the BBC's Washington news editor, said a man shoved cameraman Ron Skeans after the crowd was "whipped up into a frenzy against the media" by Trump and other speakers. The correspondents' association president, Olivier Knox, said Tuesday that the group was relieved that "this time, no one was seriously hurt," and he called on Trump to make it clear that violence against the media is never acceptable. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump "condemns all acts of violence against any individual or group of people — including members of the press." [The Associated Press]


Winter storm forces cancellation of 4,000 flights

A winter storm slammed much of the northern U.S. with sleet, snow, and ice on Tuesday, causing power outages and forcing the cancellation of more than 4,000 airline flights. The storm is expected to lose strength in the East on Wednesday, but the West Coast will get hit with a storm that slammed Washington state on Tuesday, with California's coast getting heavy rains and snow over the next several days. "The worst of the storm is forecast to focus on central and northern California, with a heightened threat of flooding, mudslides, erosion, power outages, avalanches, and road-closing snowfall in the mountains," said AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. [USA Today]


7 million Americans 3 months behind on car payments

Seven million Americans are at least 90 days behind on their car payments, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported Tuesday. The number marked a record. Economists said it was troubling to see the number rise higher than it was following the financial crisis a decade ago despite today's low unemployment and growing economy. "The substantial and growing number of distressed borrowers suggests that not all Americans have benefited from the strong labor market," New York Fed economists wrote in a blog post. Car delinquencies are considered a sign of real financial trouble, because people need their vehicles to get to work, and can live out of them if they lose their homes. "Your car loan is your No. 1 priority in terms of payment," said Michael Taiano, a senior director at Fitch Ratings. [The Washington Post]


Yale students sue university over fraternity parties

Three Yale students filed a lawsuit on Tuesday accusing the university of fostering an environment in which alcohol-fueled off-campus fraternity parties dominate undergraduate social life. The three women — Anna McNeil, Eliana Singer, and Ry Walker — all say they have been groped at fraternity parties. They say the university offers few other events where women can socialize and meet fellow students, and tends to look the other way in cases of misbehavior. Joan Gilbride, a lawyer for the fraternities named in the lawsuit, called the allegations "baseless and unfounded." A Yale spokesman declined to comment. The lawsuit came as many schools across the country crack down on binge drinking, sexual harassment, and other offenses by members of fraternities. [The New York Times]


King, a wire fox terrier, wins Best in Show at Westminster

King, a wire fox terrier, was crowned Best in Show Tuesday night at the 143rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, after impressing judges with his calm demeanor and exceptional grooming. King is the 15th wire fox terrier to win the title. He beat out more than 2,800 other dogs representing more than 200 breeds, including the second place winner, Bono, a havanese. King will spend Wednesday with his handler Gabriel Rangel making press appearances, enjoying lunch at Sardi's, and visiting the top of the Empire State Building. [People]