Daily Briefing

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

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Tim O'Donnell
Donald Trump.
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1.

Trump eases up on metal, auto tariffs

President Trump scaled back on the global trade war on Friday, lifting tariffs on metal imports from Canada and Mexico and delaying for six months a decision to impose tariffs on automobiles from Europe, Japan, and other countries. Canada and Mexico reportedly agreed to remove all retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, in turn. Trump had previously described the metal tariffs as a source of leverage during negotiations for a new free trade agreement to replace NAFTA, but a bipartisan refusal to sign off on such a deal until the tariffs were lifted reportedly swayed Trump. As for the auto tariffs, Trump will once again decide whether to implement them in November as he seeks new agreements with the European Union and Japan. [The New York Times, CNBC]

2.

Migrants detained in Texas flown to San Diego

In an attempt to relieve overcrowding at border facilities in Texas, hundreds of migrant families, mostly from Central America, detained while trying to cross the southern border will be flown to San Diego where they will be interviewed, finger printed, and photographed. "We're in the middle of a humanitarian crisis and the numbers in Texas are staggering so the BP is helping out in those sectors to more efficiently process those folks," an unnamed Customs and Border Protection official said, referring to the Border Patrol. The first official flight arrived on Friday and three flights carrying between 120 and 135 people will take off weekly. The families will be medically screened before departure to ensure they are fit for travel. There are not expected to be any unaccompanied minors on the flights. [NBC News, Fox 5 San Diego]

3.

US warns commercial airliners flying over Gulf

As tensions heighten heighten between Iran and the United States, U.S. diplomats have issued warnings to commercial airliners flying over the Gulf. The diplomats said the planes could be misidentified. That said, commercial planes will still be able to fly as normal in the region. Lloyd's of London, an insurance company, also warned of increased risks for ships passing through the region's waters. The advisories went into place after Washington increased sanctions on Iran and pulled non-essential staff from its embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, citing possible threats from Iran's proxy forces. [Al Jazeera, Reuters]

4.

Steven Mnuchin refuses to comply with subpoena for Trump's tax returns

Just minutes before a 5 p.m. deadline on Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made it clear he would not hand over President Trump's tax returns. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) subpoenaed Mnuchin for Trump's tax returns last week, after initially setting an April 10 deadline for the documents, which Mnuchin declined to meet. After granting Mnuchin several extensions, Neal issued a subpoena, demanding six years of Trump's personal and business returns. Mnuchin sent a letter to Neal on Friday saying his "unprecedented" demand "lacks legitimate legislative purpose," and so he wouldn't be fulfilling it. The next step for Democrats in getting the returns is a lawsuit. [The Washington Post]

5.

Liberal coalition expected to claim surprise victory in Australian elections

In a surprising turn of events, Australia's governing Liberal coalition is reportedly expected to defy predictions on Saturday and win the country's federal elections. But only half the votes have been counted so far, making it unclear as to whether center-right Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be able to form a majority government. Even still, the anticipated victory comes as a shock in light of most pre-election opinion polling, which largely pointed to a narrow victory for Labor and its leader, Bill Shorten. Australia has mandatory voting and a reported record 16.4 million voters enrolled for the election. [BBC, The Guardian]

6.

Federal appeals court rules against Trump administration on ending DACA

A federal appeals court has ruled against the Trump administration's attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on Friday ruled in a 2-1 decision that the administration was "arbitrary and capricious" in its efforts to end DACA, which provides protections for some undocumented immigrants brought into the U.S. as children. The court said that the Trump administration's attempt to end the program violated the law because the administration did not provide "a reasoned explanation for the change in policy." This overturns a previous ruling from a Maryland judge last year that the administration could proceed in ending the program. The legal battle will likely head to the Supreme Court. [The Associated Press]

7.

House passes bill banning discrimination on basis of sexual orientation or gender

The House of Representatives on Friday passed the Equality Act, legislation amending the Civil Rights Act to explicitly ban discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. It would ban discrimination in housing, education, finances, and other federally funded areas, a long-discussed expansion to the 1964 law. The bill was passed 236-173 in the Democratically-controlled House. Eight Republicans voted to approve the legislation. The Republican-majority Senate is not expected to vote on the bill. [NPR]

8.

U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn cuts off Brexit talks

Two years' worth of discussions over how Britain should exit the European Union collapsed on Friday with a letter from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to Prime Minister Theresa May saying the talks "have gone as far as they can." May is now planning a timetable for her promised resignation. Britain voted to leave the EU back in 2016, but has struggled to agree on the terms. May has introduced several proposals to Parliament in an effort to preserve a trade deal with the EU but each has been voted down. The EU agreed to let Britain stay in the trading bloc until Oct. 31 as it continued to try to work out a deal, and May has a vote on her fourth plan scheduled for June. If the proposal fails, May has promised to step down. [ BBC]

9.

McAleenan prevails in power dispute with Miller

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan threatened to leave his post after President Trump's senior adviser Stephen Miller tried to dictate agency hiring, administration officials said. McAleenan blocked Miller's attempts, but he reportedly made known that he needed to have more control over his agency. The dispute revolved around former FBI official Mark Morgan, whom Trump selected to be the new director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Miller, though, sought to have Morgan installed as the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection instead. But McAleenan made clear to White House officials that he, not Miller, was the head of the DHS in closed-door meetings. McAleenan ultimately prevailed and Morgan will take over as acting ICE director next week. [The Washington Post, CNN]

10.

Netflix announces fashion design competition series

Queer Eye's fashionista Tan France will pair with designer Alexa Chung to host a fashion competition show titled Next in Fashion for Netflix, the streaming giant announced Friday. Netflix has ordered 10 episodes of the series, which will show designers in competition with one another by putting them through different fashion challenges relating to global fashion trends. Eighteen established designers will be featured, and they'll be vying for a $250,000 prize along with the chance to debut a line with Net-a-Porter. Guest judges like stylist and fashion editor Elizabeth Stewart and Instagram's director of fashion partnerships Eva Chen will appear, as well. The series does not yet have a premiere date. [The Hollywood Reporter]