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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 18, 2019

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Harold Maass
Donald Trump
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1.

Miller: Trump could veto resolution against emergency declaration

President Trump is prepared to issue a veto if Congress votes against his declaration of a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller indicated on Sunday. "The president is going to protect his national emergency declaration," Miller told Fox News Sunday. Asked if that meant Trump would veto a resolution of disapproval, Miller said: "He's going to protect his national emergency declaration, guaranteed." Democrats, who say Trump is exceeding his authority by going around Congress to fund his border wall, are planning to introduce a resolution of disapproval. Several Republican senators already have indicated they would support it. Public Citizen, a progressive advocacy group, has filed a lawsuit accusing Trump of overstepping his constitutional authority. California also plans to sue to block the order. [The Associated Press]

2.

Protests planned against Trump border emergency

Activists across the nation have planned Monday protests against President Trump's declaration of a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border, which he plans to use to free up $8 billion in funding for 234 miles of border wall. Protests are scheduled from New York to California, and from North Dakota to Texas. "We are mobilizing nonviolent rapid-response events to stand up against Trump's #FakeNationalEmergency to defend our democracy and immigrant, Muslim, black, and brown communities from Trump's dangerous national emergency power grab," MoveOn.org said on its website for the nationwide events. In Atlanta, the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice organized a Presidents Day protest outside the offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, because that agency would be "charged with patrolling this ridiculous wall." [USA Today, WSBTV]

3.

France rejects Trump call to repatriate captured ISIS fighters

France's justice minister, Nicole Belloubet, said Monday that her government would not immediately act on President Trump's call for European allies to bring home and prosecute hundreds of Islamic State fighters captured in Syria. Trump on Saturday demanded that France, Britain, and Germany repatriate more than 800 ISIS fighters who are from European countries. French policy has been to refuse to take back fighters and their wives, on the grounds that they are "enemies" of the nation who should face justice where they are. The U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are holding 150 French citizens, many of them children, in northern Syria, and their status is in question following President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the country. [Reuters]

4.

McCabe: 'Crime may have been committed' by Trump

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said in a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday that "a crime may have been committed" if President Trump was trying to obscure his campaign's ties to Russia and derail the Russian election meddling investigation when he fired then-FBI director James Comey in May 2017. McCabe was ousted in March 2018, 10 months after opening two investigations into Trump that he said led to his firing. The White House said in a statement to CBS News that McCabe opened "a completely baseless investigation into the president," and has "no credibility." McCabe's book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, is being released Tuesday. [The Associated Press, Politico]

5.

Graham vows to investigate 'attempted bureaucratic coup'

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Sunday said he would investigate former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and other top Justice Department officials to determine if they plotted an "attempted bureaucratic coup" against President Trump. Graham made the statement on CBS' Face the Nation in response to McCabe's comments in a CBS 60 Minutes interview that Justice Department officials had discussed the possibility of asking Cabinet officials whether they would support using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. McCabe corroborated reports that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had suggested wearing a wire in a meeting with Trump. "We will have a hearing about who's telling the truth," Graham said. [The Huffington Post]

6.

Iranian, Chinese hackers resume attacks on U.S agencies, businesses

Iranian and Chinese hackers appear to have resumed attacks on U.S. businesses and government agencies, The New York Times reported Monday. The recent targets of Chinese spies included Boeing, General Electric Aviation, and T-Mobile, according to an intelligence briefing summary read to the Times. Security experts believe that the hackers stepped up their efforts after President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal last year, and as trade tensions escalated with China. Iran's recent attacks have been broader than previously reported, targeting U.S. banks, businesses, and government agencies and prompting the Department of Homeland Security to declare an emergency order during last month's government shutdown. [The New York Times]

7.

U.S. blocks U.N. effort to reopen North Korean airspace

The Trump administration has blocked a United Nations agency's attempts to reopen North Korean airspace to international flights, Reuters reported Sunday, citing three sources familiar with the matter. One of the sources said the U.S. move is part of an effort to maintain sanctions against Pyongyang as a negotiating tactic ahead of President Trump's second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in late February. The U.S. is trying to get North Korea to take concrete steps toward fulfilling its commitments to dismantling its nuclear and missile programs. The U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization has been working with North Korea to reopen an air route over its territory. Foreign airlines now fly around the country due to the threat of unannounced missile launches. [Reuters]

8.

New round of U.S.-China trade talks start with deadline looming

Chinese stocks soared on Monday ahead of a new round of high-level trade talks between the U.S. and China in Washington. The Shanghai composite index surged by 2.7 percent, while the Shenzhen composite rose by 3.7 percent. Both countries said last week's talks in Beijing had resulted in significant progress. President Trump said the world's two biggest economies were closer than ever to "having a real trade deal," adding that he would be "honored" to remove new tariffs if the "very complicated" talks yielded an agreement. He also reiterated that he would consider extending an early March deadline and further delaying tariff hikes on Chinese goods if a deal is near. U.S. markets are closed Monday for Presidents Day. [CNBC]

9.

Denny Hamlin wins Daytona 500 after flurry of crashes

Denny Hamlin won his second Daytona 500 on Sunday after a late 21-car crash delayed the finish of the 61st running of NASCAR's biggest and season-opening race. Hamlin was one of just 14 drivers to finish on the lead lap, after a series of crashes late in the race. Nineteen cars, out of a field of 40, were able to complete an overtime period that added 17.5 miles to the race, the lowest number to finish since just 18 got through the race in 1985. "It's incredible to me how many times we were able to crash in the last 10 laps," said Jamie McMurray, a former Daytona 500 champion involved in the night's final wreck. "When the Daytona 500 is on the line, people are willing to take big risks." [USA Today]

10.

Team LeBron beats Team Giannis in NBA All-Star Game

Team LeBron came back from a 20-point second-half deficit to beat Team Giannis 178-164 in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was the second-straight win for LeBron James' team in the captain's-choice format. Warriors forward Kevin Durant earned MVP honors, scoring 31 points for Team LeBron. LeBron James finished with 19 points and eight rebounds. First-time captain Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 38, hitting 17 of his 23 shots for the team he drafted. Team Giannis also got 20 points from Paul George and Khris Middleton, and another 17 points apiece from Stephen Curry, who was Antetokounmpo's first draft pick, and Russell Westbrook. [CBS Sports, The Associated Press]