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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 24, 2019

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Harold Maass
Celebrations in Turkey
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1.

Pompeo vows to form 'global coalition' against Iran

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters ahead of a trip to Saudi Arabia on Sunday that he is trying to create a "global coalition" against Iran. The remark came after a tense week in which President Trump ordered a strike against Iran only to cancel it. National Security Adviser John Bolton defended Trump's decisions. "Neither Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness," Bolton said. "No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East." After Trump backed down from a conventional military strike in retaliation for Iran's downing of a U.S. drone, U.S. Cyber Command launched a cyber strike against Iranian missile control systems on Thursday, U.S. officials said. [The Associated Press, NPR]

2.

Turkey's ruling party loses Istanbul mayoral vote

Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu won an election for Istanbul mayor for the second time Sunday in a do-over vote. Imamoglu's victory dealt a blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who led an effort to elect ruling party candidate Binali Yildirim and avoid losing leadership in Turkey's largest city, a key commercial hub. Yildirim conceded defeat. "I wish him success," Yildirim said. "Elections mean democracy and this election has once again demonstrated that democracy in Turkey is working perfectly." The state election board annulled the first vote, which was held in March, after Imamoglu won by a narrow margin. [The Washington Post]

3.

Leaked Trump transition documents cite 'red flags' on top appointees

Axios obtained nearly 100 leaked internal Trump transition vetting documents that identified "red flags" about numerous officials who went on to be named to top jobs in President Trump's administration. Axios said the documents spotlighted the "slap-dash way President Trump filled his Cabinet and administration." The leaked material included warnings about several officials who have since been pushed out of the administration. A section of the vetting form of Scott Pruitt, who lost his job as EPA administrator over ethical abuses and questionable ties to lobbyists, was titled "allegations of coziness with big energy companies." Kris Kobach, who served as head of Trump's now-defunct voter fraud commission, was flagged for criticism of alleged ties to "white supremacist groups." [Axios]

4.

Buttigieg holds tense town hall after white cop fatally shoots black man

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, faced angry questions from constituents Sunday in a tense town hall meeting held to discuss the fatal shooting of Eric Logan, an African-American man, by a white police officer. Prosecutors said Logan, 54, approached Sgt. Ryan O'Neill with a knife after O'Neill confronted him for allegedly breaking into cars. But O'Neill's body camera was not on. Many people at the town hall complained about longstanding tensions between South Bend's large black community and its police force, which is now about 5 percent African American. Buttigieg said he has asked the Justice Department's civil rights division to investigate, and took responsibility for failing to diversify the city's police force. [CBS News]

5.

Trump calls hiring Sessions his 'biggest mistake'

President Trump said Sunday that hiring Jeff Sessions as his first attorney general was his "biggest mistake." Sessions, who was serving as a senator while Trump was running for president, recused himself from the investigation into Russian election interference after saying in his 2017 confirmation hearing that he had no contact with Russians, only to concede later that he had met with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Sessions' decision to stay out of the Russia investigation paved the way for former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which still casts a cloud over Trump's presidency. "I would say if I had one do over, it would be, I would not have appointed Jeff Sessions to be attorney general," Trump told NBC's Meet the Press in an interview aired Sunday. [Reuters]

6.

China urges U.S. to cancel 'inappropriate' moves against Chinese firms

China on Monday called on the U.S. to cancel "inappropriate" actions against Chinese companies. The Trump administration blacklisted Chinese telecom and smartphone maker Huawei in May, and on Friday added five more Chinese technology companies to the so-called entity list, effectively barring them from buying parts from U.S. firms. "We hope the U.S. side, under the principles of free trade and the spirit of WTO (World Trade Organization) principles, can cancel these inappropriate measures against Chinese companies, and remove them from the entity list. This has benefits for both sides," China's vice commerce minister, Wang Shouwen, said Monday. President Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, spoke by phone last Tuesday about their plan to meet at the upcoming G-20 summit. [CNBC]

7.

Supreme Court expected to announce census, gerrymandering rulings

The Supreme Court this week is expected to issue several key rulings as it approaches the end of its current term, including one on the Trump administration's attempt to add a controversial citizenship question to the 2020 census and another on partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts. The first rulings in 12 cases the court has yet to decide are scheduled for Monday. The census and gerrymandering cases could have a big, lasting impact on elections for Congress and state legislatures. Critics have called the bid by President Trump's Commerce Department to include a citizenship question in the next census an effort to discourage immigrants from participating in the population count, which could result in an undercount in Democratic-leaning areas that would benefit Republicans. [Reuters]

8.

Ex-Congressman Joe Sestak announces presidential candidacy

Former Congressman Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) announced Sunday that he is joining the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. "I'm Joe Sestak," he said in a video posted to his campaign website, "and I wore the cloth of the nation for over 31 years in peace and war, from the Vietnam and Cold War eras to Afghanistan and Iraq and the emergence of China." Sestak, a retired Navy admiral, served two terms in Congress, from 2007 to 2011. Sestak ran two unsuccessful campaigns for the Senate. He beat then-Sen. Arlen Specter, who changed parties to run as a Democrat in 2010, after brushing off Obama administration attempts to discourage him from running. He then lost to Republican Pat Toomey in the general election. He challenged Toomey in 2016, and lost again. [The Washington Post]

9.

Toy Story 4 leads weekend box office with $118 million haul

Toy Story 4 topped the North American box office in its opening weekend, bringing in $118 million. This was the fourth-largest debut for an animated movie, following Incredibles 2 ($182 million), Finding Dory ($135 million), and Shrek the Third ($121 million), and the third movie this year to hit $100 million in ticket sales during its opening, behind Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame. While still a good launch, it fell below expectations, as experts predicted the film — which introduced a few new toys to the beloved crew, including Forky (voiced by Tony Hale) — would earn $140 million. Child's Play came in a distant second place with $14 million, followed by Aladdin with $12 million, Men in Black: International with $10.8 million, and The Secret Life of Pets 2 with $10.2 million. [Variety]

10.

Author Judith Krantz dies at 91

Best-selling romance novelist and journalist Judith Krantz died Saturday of natural causes, her publicist announced Sunday. She was 91. Krantz penned the best-sellers Scruples, I'll Take Manhattan, and Princess Daisy, with her work translated into more than 50 languages. She wrote her first novel at age 50, after a successful career as a journalist, and went on to sell over 80 million books. Several of her novels were also turned into television miniseries. A graduate of Wellesley College, Krantz was also a fashion editor for Good Housekeeping and writer for Cosmopolitan. [CNN]