Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 22, 2019

Tim O'Donnell
Ukrainian flag.


Ukraine's foreign minister denies Trump pressured Zelensky

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko denied that President Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, during a July phone call. "I know what the conversation was about, and I think there was no pressure," Prystaiko said during an interview with Ukrainian television station Hromadske that aired Saturday. "There was talk, conversations are different, leaders have the right to discuss any problems that exist. This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on a lot of questions, including those requiring serious answers." Still, others are concerned about how the accusations will affect Ukraine's relationship with the U.S. "It's a diplomatic disaster for our relations with the United States," said Alyona Getmanchuk, the director of the New Europe Center, a Kiev-based foreign policy think tank. [The Washington Post, Fox News]


Iran's leaders criticize U.S. deployment

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded to the United States' decision to send more troops to the Gulf region in a speech Sunday by warning countries against deploying forces. "If they're sincere, then they should not make our region the site of an arms race," he said. "The farther you keep yourselves from our region and our nations, the more security there will be." Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a CBS interview that will air Sunday, described the deployment of troops as "posturing" and said it wouldn't help the situation. He also said that while he isn't confident war can be avoided, he is confident that Iran will not start one. Rouhani also said Iran's peace initiative will be presented at the United Nations General Assembly this week. [BBC, CBS]


Warren passes Biden for lead in new Iowa poll

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) passed former Vice President Joe Biden for the lead in the Democratic presidential primaries in a new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers, which was released Saturday. Warren picked up 22 percent in the poll, which gives her a two-point edge over Biden. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) trailed Warren and Biden with 11 percent, and no other candidate reached double digits, though South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was close at nine percent. "This is the first major shakeup," said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll. "It's the first time we've had someone other than Joe Biden at the top of the leader board." Only one in five likely caucusgoers said their minds were made up, however. [The Des Moines Register, CNN]


Hong Kong protests continue, 13-year-olds arrested

Protesters took over shopping malls Sunday in Hong Kong as part of the city's 16th consecutive weekend of anti-government, pro-democracy demonstrations. The protesters occupying the malls were reportedly targeting business that were either linked to mainland China or viewed as being pro-police or pro-government. The scene at one of the malls became chaotic with the demonstrators desecrating a national flag and throwing it into a river. Police eventually fired tear gas at the crowd. Others reportedly vowed to disrupt airport operations by blocking access roads, but police reportedly prevented them from doing so. Hong Kong police also reportedly arrested two 13-year-olds during Saturday's protests, including one who was suspected of burning a Chinese national flag. [The South China Morning Post, The New York Times]


Trump to join India's Modi at Texas rally

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be at the center of a rally in Houston, Texas, on Sunday, where he will be joined by President Trump. Around 50,000 Indian-Americans are expected to welcome Modi, a nationalist who is facing criticism over India's recent crackdown on the state of Kashmir. "Modi's coming here shows the importance of the Indian-American diaspora for him," Preeti Dawra, a spokeswoman for the Texas India Forum that organized the event, said. "We will show him on Sunday the enthusiasm the diaspora has for his leadership." Dawra also said Trump is welcome in the community, despite Houston serving as a Democratic stronghold in Texas, as it signifies the strengthening of U.S.-India relations. Modi's visit to Texas comes just before the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week. [Reuters, CNN]


Booker could end campaign soon if fundraising goals aren't met

Addisu Demissie, the campaign manager for Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), suggested in a memo Saturday that the Democratic presidential candidate will bow out of the race if he doesn't raise $1.7 million in 10 days. "Without a fundraising surge to close out this quarter, we do not see a legitimate long-term path forward," Demissie said. Later, in a call with reporters, Demissie answered in the affirmative when asked if Booker would drop out if the team fails to reach its goal. Booker did raise $1.4 million at the end of the first quarter, so it's not an inconceivable target. Booker has struggled to bring in small donations — just 21 percent of his presidential fundraising comes from donors who gave $200 or less. He also spent more than he raised in the second fundraising quarter which ended in June. [The Wall Street Journal, NBC News]


Kennedy to challenge Markey for Senate seat

Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) made the long-awaited announcement Saturday that he'll challenge Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) for his seat in 2020. The 38-year-old said he plans to change Washington from the Senate. "Donald Trump has forced a reckoning without question," he said to a crowd in a community center in East Boston. "But to meet this moment it requires more than just beating him, it requires taking on a broken structure that allowed him to win in the first place." Kennedy has an early lead on Markey in the polls, but Markey — who, like Kennedy, is considered a progressive — has a lot more institutional support. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) all support the incumbent, for instance. [The Washington Post, Politico]


Big companies pledge to slash emissions

We Mean Business, a coalition of advocacy groups, said Sunday that almost 90 big companies in varying sectors are pledging to slash their greenhouse gas emissions in a new campaign focused on a low-carbon future. Many companies joined in the two months leading up to a United Nations climate summit which will take place Monday. Some of the companies who made the pledge agreed to slash their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said "we need many other companies to join the movement, sending a clear signal that markets are shifting." The coalition was launched in June with a call to action by the U.N., and business and civil society leaders. [Reuters]


6 people injured in Indianapolis shooting

Six people were injured, including two critically, in a shooting in downtown Indianapolis on Saturday night, police said. Those who were critically injured are reportedly in stable condition. Police are still investigating the matter, but at this time they reportedly believe there was one shooter, who fled the scene and is still outstanding. The motive was not immediately known. The gunshot victims were reportedly a combination of adults and juveniles. The shooting occurred about seven blocks from Indianapolis' entertainment center around 11:15 p.m. and the victims were discovered by officers on foot patrol who were nearby and heard the gunfire. [The Indianapolis Star, NBC News]


71st Primetime Emmys to air Sunday night

The 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place Sunday night. The ceremony, which will not have a host for the first time since 2003, will air live on Fox at 8 p.m. E.T. from downtown Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater. It will also stream on Fox.com and the Fox Now app. HBO's Game of Thrones is predicted to win the award for the year's top drama, among numerous other trophies, including a third best supporting actor win for Peter Dinklage. Meanwhile, the year's best comedy will reportedly likely boil down to HBO's Veep and Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Veep's Julia Louis-Dreyfus is expected to notch a record seventh Emmy for best actress in a comedy series. [Deadline, Gold Derby]