Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 10, 2019

Harold Maass
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.


Trump doubles tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods

President Trump hiked tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods early Friday, escalating his trade war with China. Beijing said it would respond in kind to the increase of U.S. tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent. "China expresses deep regret over the development and will have to take necessary countermeasures," China's Ministry of Commerce said in a statement. "We hope the United States will meet us halfway." The two sides are meeting in Washington for a second day of talks in the latest round of negotiations seeking a trade deal. The world's two largest economies were close to an agreement until last weekend, when China called for changes to a draft accord. "We were getting very close to a deal then they started to renegotiate the deal," said Trump, who is threatening to hike tariffs on another $325 billion worth of Chinese goods. "We can't have that." [The New York Times, CNN]


U.S. seizes North Korean 'sanctions-busting' cargo ship

The U.S. has seized a North Korean coal ship allegedly used to violate international sanctions, the Justice Department said Thursday. The 17,061-ton Wise Honest, North Korea's second largest cargo ship, reportedly was used for coal exports that helped finance the rogue nation's nuclear weapon and missile programs, and to smuggle in heavy machinery needed for industrial expansion. "This sanctions-busting ship is now out of service," said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, chief of the Justice Department's National Security Division. The action was expected to fuel already intensifying tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, which conducted two short-range missile tests in the last week. [USA Today]


Uber shares make their market debut

Uber shares make their debut on Friday in the technology industry's biggest initial public offering in years. Uber on Thursday priced its IPO at $45 a share, close to the bottom of its projected range following a bumpy IPO by smaller rival Lyft. The pricing values Uber at $82.4 billion. The company is raising $8.1 billion in the biggest IPO since Facebook, which debuted in 2012 valued at $104 billion. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba went public in 2014 with a valuation of $168 billion. Other high-profile tech IPOs in recent years, including those of Facebook, Twitter, and Snap, were priced higher than expected, but Uber faces strong headwinds. It lost $1.1 billion in the first quarter, facing strong competition and concerns about its business model. [The New York Times]


Trump to nominate Patrick Shanahan as defense secretary

President Trump plans to nominate Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to officially fill the top job at the Pentagon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Thursday. Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, served as deputy secretary before stepping in as acting secretary after former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned nearly six months ago. Shanahan "has proven over the last several months that he is beyond qualified to lead the Department of Defense, and he will continue to do an excellent job," Sanders said. The elevation of Shanahan, who has kept a lower profile than Mattis, comes at a time of rising tensions abroad, particularly with Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. [The Washington Post, White House]


Republicans blast Burr over Senate panel subpoena of Donald Trump Jr.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) faced a backlash from fellow Republicans on Thursday after reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee he chairs has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to answer questions about his 2017 testimony in the panel's investigation of Russian election meddling. The subpoena marked the first involving a member of President Trump's family. It exposed division among Republicans over whether further hearings on Russian election interference and Trump associates' contact with Russians warranted further attention now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has completed his report. "This case is closed," tweeted Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). "The Mueller Report cleared @DonaldJTrumpJr and he's already spent 27 hours testifying before Congress. It's time to move on." President Trump said he was "very surprised" about the subpoena. [The Associated Press]


Alabama state senators delay vote on nation's most restrictive abortion bill

The Alabama state Senate on Thursday postponed a vote on the nation's strictest abortion bill. Shouting erupted after hardline Republican supporters used a procedural move to remove an exception in cases of rape and incest without allowing a roll call vote. The exception was not included in a version passed by the state House, but had been added to the Senate bill. The Senate vote was delayed until next week, but the bill is expected to pass. It would ban most abortions, making it a felony for doctors to perform abortions unless a woman's health is at "serious" risk. The bill is intended to result in a Supreme Court review of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion. [AL.com, The Washington Post]


Chelsea Manning released from jail but troubles not over

Former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has been released from jail following the expiration of a grand jury she refused to testify before, the anti-secrecy activist's attorneys said Thursday. "Today marked the expiration of the term of the grand jury, and so, after 62 days of confinement, Chelsea was released from the Alexandria Detention Center earlier today," Manning’s legal team wrote in a statement Thursday. Manning was promptly subpoenaed to appear before another grand jury, so it is "conceivable that she will once again be held in contempt of court" and returned to jail as soon as next Thursday, the lawyers said. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for leaking classified materials released by WikiLeaks, but President Obama commuted her sentence in 2017. [ABC News]


Trump: Burr will decide whether to let Mueller testify

President Trump said Thursday he would leave it to Attorney General William Barr to decide whether to let Special Counsel Robert Mueller testify to Congress. "I'm going to leave that up to our very great attorney general," Trump said at an impromptu White House news conference on Thursday. Barr has said he would have no problem with allowing lawmakers to question Mueller about his investigation into Russian election interference. Trump has said he doesn't want any more administration officials appearing before Congress to discuss the matter, and he tweeted last weekend that Mueller "should not" testify. White House aides said Trump was just expressing an opinion, not giving Mueller an order. Democrats are trying to get Mueller to appear before a House committee next week. [The Hill]


Rod Rosenstein says justice 'in good hands' as he leaves

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who leaves his post Friday after 30 years in the Justice Department, said in a Thursday farewell ceremony that he is moving on "confident that justice is in good hands." Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller and oversaw his investigation after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. Rosenstein weathered criticism from President Trump and submitted his resignation last month, once Mueller wrapped up his report. Attorney General William Barr, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Sessions attended the farewell event for Rosenstein, and Barr spoke warmly of Rosenstein. In a speech, Rosenstein said "the rule of law requires us to ignore partisan politics, to tune out the news cycle, and to base our decisions on credible evidence." [CNN, The Hill]


Jeff Bezos unveils Blue Origin's lunar lander

Jeff Bezos on Thursday unveiled his rocket company Blue Origin's new lunar lander, Blue Moon. Bezos, owner of Blue Origin and founder and CEO of Amazon, said the spacecraft would help the Trump administration meet the goal of returning astronauts to the moon by 2024. Bezos launched Blue Origin in 2000, and the company has been relatively quiet about its operations. Bezos said he visualizes millions of people in future generations living on space colonies, and Blue Origin can start getting the infrastructure in place. "We are going to build a road to space," Bezos said. "And then amazing things will happen." The company's New Shepherd rocket for space tourists could take its first flights carrying people this year. [The New York Times]