Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 8, 2019

Harold Maass
Trump supporters and critics


Trump visits Dayton, El Paso after shootings, faces protests

President Trump visited Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday after mass shootings in those cities left 31 people dead and dozens wounded over the weekend. Trump told people in both communities he was "with them." He visited hospitals where wounded survivors were being treated, and was met by protesters. Some held signs reading "Trump is racist" and "Send him back." Many called for gun control, and said Trump's anti-immigrant and racially charged rhetoric was inflaming tensions. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said everybody received Trump "very warmly." Trump tweeted that he "brings people together." He also tweeted criticism of Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, both Democrats, saying they were "misrepresenting" his visit. [The Associated Press]


Puerto Rico gets 3rd governor in less than a week

Puerto Rico's Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the swearing in of Pedro Pierluisi as the U.S. Caribbean territory's governor was unconstitutional, so he had to resign. Former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló stepped down last week after massive protests over government corruption and offensive chat messages he exchanged with aides. He named former congressional representative Pierluisi as secretary of state, putting him next in line to be governor. Puerto Rico's Senate did not confirm Pierluisi, however, before he took the office on Aug. 2, so the court said he had to go. With Pierluisi out, the next in line was Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez. She had said she didn't want the job, but took the oath of office shortly after the court's decision, giving Puerto Rico its third governor in six days. [NPR, The Associated Press]


Biden says Trump has 'fanned the flames of white supremacy'

Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke in Burlington, Iowa, on Wednesday and condemned President Trump's response to the mass shootings in Ohio and Texas over the weekend, saying the president's "toxic tongue" has fueled hate and racism. Biden said Trump "has aligned himself with the darkest forces in this nation" and has failed in "moral leadership" following the tragedies. Biden also criticized Trump's Monday speech, in which he read prepared marks condemning white supremacy. Despite his words, said Biden, Trump has "fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation. His low energy, vacant-eyed mouthing of the words written for him condemning white supremacists this week, I don't believe fooled anyone." Biden argued for stronger gun control and vowed to keep Trump from being re-elected. [C-SPAN, Reuters]


House Democrats launch lawsuit to enforce subpoena for Don McGahn

The Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to force President Trump's former White House counsel, Don McGahn, to testify about "key events" regarding possible obstruction of justice by Trump. The lawsuit says the committee is trying to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment against Trump over "obstructive conduct" described in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election meddling and possible obstruction of justice by Trump. The panel called McGahn "the most important witness," after Trump, and said it couldn't "fulfill this most solemn constitutional responsibility" without McGahn's testimony. McGahn has defied a subpoena at the direction of the White House, which says top presidential aides are "absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony." [Reuters, Politico]


Pakistan suspends trade with India, expels diplomat in Kashmir dispute

Pakistan on Wednesday announced plans to suspend trade with India and expel its top diplomat, escalating a fight over the disputed territory of Kashmir. The crisis erupted Monday when India decided to strip Kashmir of its special constitutional status, which had given it the right to make its own laws. Kashmir has long been divided under control of both neighboring countries, although both claim the entire region. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, and they most recently clashed in a flurry of air attacks there in February. Both countries have nuclear weapons. [BBC News]


Sex-trafficking victim Cyntoia Brown leaves prison

Cyntoia Brown, a sex trafficking victim who in 2006 was sentenced to life in prison over the murder of Johnny Allen, was released on parole on Wednesday after Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) granted her clemency in January. Brown was 16 when she killed Allen but was tried as an adult. She said she acted in self-defense and that Allen had solicited her for sex after she was forced into prostitution, also saying that she believed Allen was going to kill her. Following her conviction, Brown would not have been eligible for parole until serving 51 years, but her sentence was commuted. Brown said she looks forward "to using my experiences to help other women and girls suffering abuse and exploitation." [CBS News]


680 arrested in workplace immigration raids in Mississippi

U.S. immigration agents arrested 680 workers, most of them Hispanic, in Wednesday raids on seven Mississippi food processing plants. The raids, the largest such workplace operations in at least a decade, occurred hours before President Trump visited El Paso, Texas, a majority Latino city on the Mexican border where a mass shooter killed 22 people over the weekend shortly after posting an online rant against a "Hispanic invasion." Workers arrested at a Koch Foods plant in Morton were taken to a military hangar for procession on immigration charges. Dozens of relatives and other supporters gathered nearby and shouted, "Let them go!" Matthew Albence, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's acting director, said the raids were "being done on a racially neutral basis," based on evidence. [The Associated Press]


Bodies found in Canada believed to be murder suspects

Canadian police said Wednesday that they had found two bodies believed to belon gto teenagers suspected of killing three people in British Columbia. The bodies were found near a river in northern Manitoba after an intense two-week manhunt for the teens, Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18. They were suspects in the killings of 64-year-old University of British Columbia lecturer Leonard Dyck, and a young couple: Lucas Fowler, 23, an Australian, and Chynna Deese, 24, an American. Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy said the apparent breakthrough in the case came after police officers discovered personal items belonging to the suspects along the Nelson River. Less than a mile from where those items were found, authorities discovered a damaged aluminum boat. The bodies were found in dense brush nearby. [The New York Times]


U.N. report warns climate change, land exploitation threaten food supply

A United Nations scientific report released Thursday says climate change, along with unprecedented exploitation of land and water resources, could threaten the world's food supply. "The cycle is accelerating," said NASA climate scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig, a report co-author. "The threat of climate change affecting people's food on their dinner table is increasing." The report said that climate change is worsening land degradation by thawing permafrost, causing deserts to expand, and making forests more vulnerable to fire, drought, and pests. But efforts to curb greenhouse gas-emissions, which are blamed for climate change, and to counter the effects of global warming, could be in vain without major changes in global land use and agriculture. Even human diets must change, with the report recommending people eat less meat. [The Associated Press, Nature]


Equinox, SoulCycle face boycott calls over owner's Trump fundraiser

Equinox Fitness Clubs and SoulCycle faced calls for boycotts on Wednesday in a backlash over news that the companies' owner, billionaire Stephen Ross, planned soon to hold a fundraiser at his Hamptons home for President Trump. High-profile LGBTQ activists and celebrities expressed support for a boycott via social media. A player for the Miami Dolphins, the professional football team Ross owns, was among the supporters. So was comedian Billy Eichner, who tweeted: "Hey @Equinox - what's your policy for canceling memberships once a member finds out your owner is enabling racism and mass murder?" Ross said in a statement that he has known Trump for decades and has always told Trump when he disagrees with him. [The Washington Post]