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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 13, 2019

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Tim O'Donnell
Mike Pence.
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1.

Pence visits migrant detention facilities in Texas

Vice President Mike Pence on Friday traveled to two federal migrant detention centers in Texas, where he witnessed firsthand the extreme overcrowding migrants have to endure. Pence said afterward that he had seen evidence of a "system that was overwhelmed." While Pence was touring the facility a group of men detained behind a chain link fence were reportedly shouting that they did not have access to showers. Pence acknowledged that "the crisis was real" in reference to illegal border crossings and legal asylum claims at the southern border, but he called allegations that detainees were mistreated by Customs and Border Protection "slanderous," arguing that he could see the agents' care and concern. Pence called for Congress to act to end the flow of families coming north from Central America. [NBC News, CNN]

2.

Tropical Storm Barry continues to make way to shore

Tropical Storm Barry, expected to become a category 1 hurricane, did not hit land on Friday evening as expected, though the Gulf Coast did experience intermittent rain. On Saturday morning the storm remained in the Gulf of Mexico south of the Louisiana coast, but is expected to push closer to land throughout the day. Louisiana is anticipating up to 20 inches of rain. The New Orleans metro area remains under a tropical storm warning and some parts of the Gulf Coast have already lost power as a result of heavy rain and strong winds. In New Orleans, the Mississippi River is expected to crest at about 17.1 feet, which is less than the initial prediction of 19 feet. While still high, it is cause for relief as the city's levees range from about 20 to 25 feet in height. [NOLA.com, The Associated Press]

3.

Prosecutors fear Epstein will tamper with witnesses if released on bail

Financier Jeffrey Epstein allegedly recently paid two possible co-conspirators in a non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in Florida 12 years ago a combined $350,000. That plea deal was approved by then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, who on Friday announced his resignation as the Trump administration's labor secretary. The recent accusations were made by federal prosecutors in New York on Friday, who recently arrested and charged Epstein with sex trafficking minors. "This course of action, and in particular its timing, suggests the defendant was attempting to further influence co-conspirators who might provide information against him in light of the recently re-emerging allegations," prosecutors said. Concerned that Epstein will tamper with witnesses, they also argued that he should be denied bail while he awaits trial. [CBS News, The Week]

4.

Mueller's testimony delayed by one week

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's scheduled testimony before the House Judiciary Committee and House Intelligence Committee has been pushed back a week. Instead of July 17, he will appear beginning at 8:30 a.m. on July 24 for an "extended period of time." House leaders and Mueller struck a deal to delay the testimony amid negotiations over the length of his appearance; he was planning to appear for about two hours, which wouldn't give all lawmakers an opportunity to ask questions. Mueller will testify and answer questions on his report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, despite his previous indication that he wished not to appear before Congress, saying, "the report is my testimony." [The Washington Post]

5.

House votes to require Trump to obtain congressional approval for Iran strike

The House passed its defense bill on Friday with an amendment requiring President Trump to receive approval from Congress before launching a military strike against Iran. With a 251-170 vote, the amendment was added onto the House's successfully passed defense bill; the measure received support from most Democrats as well as 27 Republicans. The amendment has a self-defense exception. The House's vote comes weeks after Trump ordered a strike on Iran but called it off with 10 minutes to spare. Trump has asserted he does not need approval from Congress to strike Iran. The Senate will reportedly be looking to remove this provision after a similar amendment failed in the Republican-controlled chamber last month. Trump earlier this week threatened to veto the House's defense bill. [The New York Times]

6.

26 killed after hotel siege in Somalia

A hotel attack reportedly carried out by al Qaeda-linked al Shabab in the Somalian port city Kismayo resulted in 26 deaths on Saturday. Victims of a suicide car bomber and gunmen included Kenyans, Tanzanians, Americans, a Briton, a Canadian, and prominent Somali politicians. More than 50 people were wounded during the attack which reportedly lasted 14 hours before troops shot and killed the attackers inside the hotel. A political gathering in which local elders and legislators were meeting to discuss approaching regional elections was taking place at the hotel. A presidential candidate and two journalists were also killed during the siege. [Al Jazeera]

7.

Protests spread across U.S. in anticipation of Sunday's ICE raids

Protests sprouted up around the country on Friday in anticipation of Immigration and Customs Enforcement carrying out planned raids on Sunday. ICE is expected to sweep 10 major cities in the U.S., searching for undocumented immigrants. President Trump has said that the authorities were "focused on criminals as much as we can before we do anything else." But any undocumented immigrants could face deportation. "They came in illegally, they have to go out," Trump said on Friday. Immigration advocates and local politicians have said they will not cooperate with the agency during the search. In some cities, like New York, immigration groups are reportedly warning people not to answer the door if ICE shows up. [WSOC Charlotte, ABC 7 New York]

8.

Stocks rise to all-time highs

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 243 points on Friday, closing at an all-time high after surpassing 27,000 just one day prior for the first time ever. The S&P 500 closed above 3,000 for the first time, a 0.5 percent gain, and the Nasdaq Composite surged 0.6 percent. The surge this week comes after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signaled that the central bank was likely to cut interest rates soon to boost the economy. "Powell gave us juice this week," said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade. But "I think we're rangebound until tariffs are settled." Indexes ended the week on a high note after a solid streak of gains, following better-than-expected reports on jobs growth and producer and consumer price indexes. [CNBC]

9.

R. Kelly charged with racketeering in federal case

Singer R. Kelly was charged with racketeering in an indictment unsealed Friday, with federal prosecutors describing "criminal conduct including sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor" and transporting women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity. Federal agents arrested Kelly in Chicago on Thursday night after a federal grand jury handed down a 13-count indictment earlier in the day. These are the first federal charges against Kelly, who also faces sexual assault charges in Illinois to which he has pleaded not guilty. He was acquitted of state child pornography charges in 2008. The documents released Friday describe a large scale operation to coordinate "a racketeering enterprise." Kelly has denied wrongdoing. [Department of Homeland Security]

10.

Halep defeats Williams in Wimbledon final

Romanian Simona Halep, the world's no. 7 female tennis player, defeated American Serena Williams, who is ranked no. 11, in Saturday's Wimbledon final with relative ease. Halep took the match in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2. It was Halep's first Wimbledon crown, and her second-ever major championship after claiming the French Open in 2018. Williams, who is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, was seeking her eighth All England Club title, and 24th Grand Slam championship overall. Before Saturday, the 27-year-old Halep, a former no. 1-ranked player, had only ever reached the Wimbledon semifinals. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovich will face off in the men's Wimbledon final on Sunday at 9 a.m. [ESPN, The Associated Press]