Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 16, 2019

Bonnie Kristian
President Trump
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Trump declares national emergency to fund border wall

President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency and signed a funding bill Congress passed Thursday to avert a partial government shutdown. The bill includes $1.75 billion for border fencing, and Trump aims to obtain an additional $6.5 billion for wall construction. He intends to redirect money from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund and a Defense Department drug interdiction program, in addition to using military construction appropriations. The military money is only available through the emergency declaration. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticized Trump's decision, which will likely face legal challenge. [The Washington Post, The Guardian]


Illinois workplace shooting leaves 6 dead

Six people were killed, including a shooting suspect identified by authorities as a man named Gary Martin, in a workplace shooting at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois, on Friday afternoon. Martin was a 15-year employee of the Henry Pratt Company and was scheduled to be let go from his job Friday. In addition to fatally shooting five people, he wounded six police officers, all of whom are in stable condition. Though initial reports said the suspect was taken into custody, Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said he was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police. [NBC News, CNN]


Pope Francis defrocks Cardinal McCarrick over sexual abuse charges

Pope Francis has expelled former Cardinal and Archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick from the Catholic priesthood, the Vatican announced Saturday. The decision came after a church trial found McCarrick guilty of sexually abusing three minors and harassing adult seminarians and priests. It is believed to be the first time the church has defrocked a U.S. cardinal. McCarrick is also the first priest of his standing to be dismissed for sexual abuse. "Bishops and cardinals are no longer immune to punishment," Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, told The New York Times. [CNN, The New York Times]


Mueller interviewed Sarah Huckabee Sanders

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, Sanders said in a statement Friday. "The president urged me, like he has everyone in the administration, to fully cooperate with the special counsel," Sanders said. "I was happy to voluntarily sit down with them." The interview took place in the fall of 2018, around the time Mueller's investigators spoke with other current and former senior administration figures, including then-Chief of Staff John Kelly, former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer. [CNBC, CNN]


Manafort faces about 2 decades in prison

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team in a court filing Friday recommended between 19 and 25 years in prison for Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chair, who was convicted last year of eight counts of financial fraud, including tax evasion. "Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship," the sentencing memo said. "He nonetheless cheated the United States Treasury and the public out of more than $6 million in taxes at a time when he had substantial resources." If the court accepts Mueller's recommendation, Manafort, 69, could spend the rest of his life in prison. [Reuters, The Associated Press]


Roger Stone subject to gag order

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson imposed a limited gag order on GOP operative Roger Stone on Friday, banning him from making any statements "that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case." A longtime adviser to President Trump, Stone was arrested last month as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and has pleaded not guilty to charges of witness tampering, lying to Congress, and obstruction. The gag order says he cannot make comments "within the vicinity of the courthouse" and is barred from communicating with witnesses. Stone criticized Mueller in multiple media appearance after his arrest. [Politico, BuzzFeed News]


Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld announces 2020 exploratory committee

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R) announced Friday he will form an exploratory committee for a possible primary challenge of President Trump in 2020. The country is in "grave peril" and Trump is "unstable," Weld said in his announcement, arguing that Republicans who support the president "exhibit all the symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome." Weld was Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson's running mate during the 2016 election. Several other Republicans, including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, have floated possible primary challenges against Trump, but polls show the majority of Republicans still back the president. [Boston Herald, The Week]


Supreme Court to consider census citizenship question

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case challenging the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. census. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman blocked the addition with a ruling in January, and, at the administration's request, the Supreme Court will consider the issue in April without requiring the case to go through the normal appeals process. The matter is time-sensitive because census forms must be printed soon. Citizenship status has not been part of the census questionnaire for more than half a century, and its inclusion has been challenged by 18 states. [Reuters, CNN]


Nigerian presidential election postponed

Nigeria's election commission postponed the country's presidential election early Saturday morning, announcing the delay only hours before polls were set to open. The vote has been rescheduled for next Saturday, Feb. 23. Both Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and the leading opposition candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, urged the public to remain calm about the delay, though Abubakar also accused Buhari of orchestrating the postponement to disenfranchise opposition voters. Election officials attributed the wait to difficulty transporting ballots to all polling locations in time for voting to begin. [Reuters, The Associated Press]


Colin Kaepernick reaches settlement with NFL

The NFL and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick announced Friday they have reached a settlement over Kaepernick's collusion lawsuit, in which he alleged he was blacklisted from playing football due to his protests during the national anthem. While the terms of the settlement were not revealed, NFL columnist Mike Freeman reported "team officials are speculating ... the NFL paid Kaepernick in the $60 million to $80 million range." Kaepernick has been out of the sport for the past two seasons. Separately, a similar lawsuit against the NFL by Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid also reached a settlement. [The Washington Post, The Week]