Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 23, 2019

Harold Maass
Phoebe Waller-Bridge with her Emmys


Trump acknowledges discussing Biden with Ukraine leader

President Trump on Sunday acknowledged talking about former Vice President Joe Biden in a July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, although he said he was not improperly pressuring Zelensky to investigate a political rival. Democrats suspect Trump of trying to get Ukraine to look into the business dealings of Biden's son, Hunter Biden. Ukraine was awaiting a Trump administration decision on military aid at the time. "No quid pro quo, there was nothing," Trump told reporters outside the White House. "It was a perfect conversation." Ukrainian leaders have denied Trump pushed them to investigate the Bidens. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said House Democrats might have to impeach Trump if he did, because that would be "the most profound violation of the presidential oath of office." [The New York Times, The Washington Post]


2019 Emmys: Game of Thrones, Fleabag win big

HBO's Game of Thrones won 12 Emmys for its eighth and final season, including the award for best drama series. The fantasy series' victory tied the record for most wins in that category shared by The West Wing, L.A. Law, Mad Men, and Hill Street Blues. Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage won best supporting actor in a drama for a record fourth time. Amazon also won big, with its British show Fleabag winning best comedy. The show's creator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, also won for comedy writing, and as best actress in a comedy in an upset over Veep's Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who had won for six straight seasons. Another Amazon show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, took two awards, with Alex Borstein and Tony Shaloub winning for their supporting roles. [Deadline, The New York Times]


Arab lawmakers back Gantz in bid to help oust Israel's Netanyahu

The Arab bloc in Israel's parliament on Sunday endorsed Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz for prime minister. It was the first time the Arab lawmakers had backed a candidate for prime minister since 1992. The support of the Arab Joint List gives Gantz 57 supporters in Parliament. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has 55. Netanyahu appealed to hardliners ahead of last week's vote by promising to annex settlements in the Palestinian West Bank. "We promised our constituents that we would do everything to topple Netanyahu," said Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi, "and the default here is recommending Benny Gantz." President Reuven Rivlin is meeting with the newly elected factions to determine who will lead the country's next government. [Axios, ABC News]


Hong Kong police break up shopping mall protest with tear gas

Hong Kong police fired tear gas to disperse pro-democracy protesters who occupied a shopping mall on Sunday. Activists reportedly targeted businesses with connections to China as the demonstrations continued for a 16th weekend. The protests erupted over a bill, now withdrawn, that sought to allow the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China. The demonstrations have grown into broader resistance against Chinese rule of the semi-autonomous former British colony. The protesters, most of them young, also smashed security cameras and ticket booths at a railway station and set street fires. One group of demonstrators reportedly trampled a Chinese flag carried by a man believed to oppose them. [Reuters, BBC News]


Trump heads to U.N. with multiple crises roiling

President Trump on Monday starts a three-day trip to join world leaders for the United Nations General Assembly. The trip comes as tensions swirl around Trump's relationship with Ukraine, a showdown with Iran following strikes against Saudi oil facilities, Trump's trade war with China, and frozen nuclear talks with North Korea. Trump said "nothing is ever off the table completely," but that he had no plans to meet on the sidelines with Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani as the U.S. pushes to build a coalition to confront Tehran over the attack in Saudi Arabia, which rattled the world oil market. Trump meets Wednesday with the president of Ukraine as Democrats press the Trump administration to release a whistleblower's complaint about a phone call Trump had with a foreign leader believed to involve Ukraine. [ABC News]


3 dead, 4 hospitalized in Pittsburgh overdose case

Three people died and four others were hospitalized in Pittsburg early Sunday after allegedly taking drugs together, police said. The first victim was found unconscious in an apartment complex elevator early Sunday, and was pronounced dead at the scene. Paramedics then found another man "somewhat conscious" a few blocks away. He, too, died. Police learned both men had been at an apartment on the city's south side. Investigators went there and found five other people who had overdosed. All were wearing orange wristbands, indicating they had attended the same event and prompting brief fears that tainted drugs might have been distributed to a large group of people. Police quickly concluded that the men "apparently overdosed" at a small gathering after the event. [CNN]


Warren and Biden join striking GM workers on picket lines

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Vice President Joe Biden joined striking General Motors workers on picket lines on Sunday as Democratic presidential candidates continued battling for the support of union groups. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) plans to join striking autoworkers in Detroit on Wednesday. Warren criticized GM for closing factories despite profits in the billions. "GM is demonstrating that it has no loyalty to the workers of America or the people of America," she said. "Their only loyalty is to their own bottom line. And if they can save a nickel by moving a job to Mexico or to Asia or to anywhere else on this planet, they will do it." President Trump last week said he hoped the strike would be brief, and he expressed support for workers' concerns. [The New York Times]


Orlando officer suspended after arresting students, ages 6 and 8

An Orlando, Florida, school resource officer, Dennis Turner, has been suspended after arresting two elementary school students last week, according to a statement from police Chief Orlando Rolón. The children, ages 6 and 8, were arrested on misdemeanor charges. "The Orlando Police Department has a policy that addresses the arrest of a minor and our initial finding shows the policy was not followed," Rolón said. "As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old this is very concerning to me." An officer transported the 8-year-old to a juvenile jail, unaware the arrest hadn't been approved. Another officer halted the charging process for the 6-year-old, who was released and returned to school. [USA Today]


Tropical Storm Karen threatens Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

Warnings were issued for St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada on Sunday after Tropical Storm Karen formed near the Windward Islands. A tropical storm watch was issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which are in the forecast path of the storm as it heads west-northwest through the eastern Caribbean. Karen is expected to be near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands by Tuesday, still with tropical storm strength. Forecasters warn that Karen's heavy rains could cause flash flooding and mudslides, especially in the mountains of the Windward and Leeward islands. [CNN]


British tour company Thomas Cook shuts down

The world's oldest travel company, the British firm Thomas Cook, shut down on Monday, leaving 600,000 customers stranded abroad. Thomas Cook started out in 1841 organizing local rail trips. It later pioneered European package vacations, and ran hotels, resorts, and airlines in 16 countries. It collapsed after failing to strike a rescue deal with lenders as it struggled with $2.1 billion of debt. The company has been hit hard by online competition and world events, including a 2018 Europe-wide heat wave that discouraged summer travel, and the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, a key destination. CEO Peter Fankhauser apologized to customers and employees. The British government is organizing flights to get travelers home in the U.K.'s biggest peacetime repatriation ever. [Reuters]