Daily briefing

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

The public phase of the impeachment inquiry begins, the Supreme Court hears arguments on Trump's bid to end DACA, and more


Public phase of House impeachment inquiry begins

The House starts public impeachment inquiry hearings on Wednesday, launching a new phase after weeks of closed-door depositions. The first day will include testimony from William Taylor, acting ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Both told lawmakers in closed hearings that the Trump White House improperly withheld congressionally approved military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) said it was time for the public to hear details of "this extortion scheme." Republicans plan to dismiss the inquiry as a partisan effort to damage a president who did nothing wrong. Democrats on Tuesday announced that eight witnesses will testify next week, including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.


Supreme Court hears arguments on Trump bid to end DREAMer protections

The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments on President Trump's effort to end protection against deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought into the country illegally as children. The court's 5-4 conservative majority appeared to support Trump's bid to kill the program. Chief Justice John Roberts, who could be the deciding vote, signaled agreement with Trump's assertion that former President Barack Obama's policy of shielding the so-called DREAMers from deportation was on shaky legal ground. The court appeared split along ideological lines. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one of the court's liberals, said ending the seven-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would "destroy lives," suggesting the administration had not adequately justified the move.


Gates tells jurors Stone updated Trump campaign on WikiLeaks plans

President Trump's former deputy campaign manager, Richard Gates, told jurors on Tuesday that Roger Stone gave Trump's campaign updates on WikiLeaks' plans for releasing emails stolen from Democrats, including Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign chairman. Gates said he overheard a phone call in which Stone appeared to alert Trump about the WikiLeaks material, contradicting Trump's written testimony to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Gates testified in Stone's criminal trial that the longtime Trump friend started providing information on WikiLeaks in April 2016, before the Democratic National Committee reported it had been hacked. Stone is accused of lying to Congress about serving as a middle-man between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign. Gates faces up to 10 years in prison under a plea deal for fraud charges.


Supreme Court says Sandy Hook victims, families can sue gun maker

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Remington Arms' appeal seeking to block a lawsuit over the use of one of the company's rifles in the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. A survivor and relatives of victims in the attack, which left 26 people dead, filed the lawsuit against the North Carolina-based gun maker, saying it never should have offered a weapon as deadly as the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle to civilians. The gunman in the shooting, Adam Lanza, used one of the weapons to kill 20 first graders and six educators. Remington had argued that it was protected legally under a 2005 federal law shielding firearm manufacturers from most lawsuits over the use of their guns in crimes.


Trump criticizes Fed in economic speech

President Trump used a high-profile speech on Tuesday to tout the strength of the economy and criticize the Federal Reserve for holding back growth by raising interest rates too fast and lowering them too slowly. Some had expected Trump to address trade tensions with China, but instead he called for the central bank to set negative interest rates. Some countries have "openly cut interest rates so that many are now actually getting paid when they pay off their loan," Trump said at the Economic Club of New York. "Give me some of that. Give me some of that money ... Our Federal Reserve doesn't let us do it." Trump noted that since his election the S&P 500 has risen more than 45 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has jumped by 50 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite has gained 60 percent.


Mark Sanford drops GOP primary challenge of Trump

Mark Sanford, a former South Carolina governor and congressman, on Tuesday dropped his challenge against President Trump in the Republican primaries. Sanford, a frequent Trump critic, launched his bid two months ago, but it never gained traction. He focused on addressing the rising national debt, which he said is a concern "at the core of my being." "It was a longshot, but we wanted to try and interject this issue, how much we're spending, into the national debate which comes along once every four years," he said Tuesday in New Hampshire outside the statehouse. "I don't think on the Republican side there's any appetite for a serious nuanced debate with impeachment in the air."


Report: Stephen Miller fed white nationalist ideas to Breitbart

Stephen Miller, the senior White House policy adviser who has steered President Trump's exclusionist immigration policy, sent emails with links to white nationalist sites to a Breitbart News editor in 2015 and 2016, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center report. Former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh shared more than 900 emails from Miller with the SPLC's Hatewatch, saying what Miller sent her "has become policy at the Trump administration." Breitbart fired McHugh in 2017 after she posted an anti-Muslim tweet, and she has since renounced her white nationalist views. Miller's emails include links to articles from VDARE, American Renaissance, and other sites tied to white nationalism, fixating on the "white genocide" conspiracy theory. The White House dismissed the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "far-left smear organization."


Hong Kong protesters paralyze business district

Anti-government protesters blocked roads in the heart of Hong Kong's business district on Wednesday, paralyzing much of the semi-autonomous Chinese-ruled financial hub for a third straight day. Public transport, schools, and many businesses were shut down as about 1,000 protesters marched through the city center. Riot police tried to disperse demonstrators near the Hong Kong stock exchange, beating some of them with batons. Police warned that the rule of law in Hong Kong has been pushed to the "brink of total collapse" by the protests. The unrest started over a proposal to allow the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China, but it continued after the legislation was withdrawn.


Report: U.S. detained more child migrants than ever before in 2019

The Trump administration held a record 69,550 migrant children in U.S. government custody in fiscal 2019, up 42 percent from the previous year, and it detained the children for longer periods of time, The Associated Press and PBS Frontline reported Tuesday. The number of migrant children detained away from their parents also outpaced that of any other nation in the world. The U.S. government has acknowledged that detaining children can lead to long-term physical and emotional trauma. When President Trump took office, the Department of Health and Human Services was caring for about 2,700 children, most of whom were reunited with parents or relatives in about a month. In June, HHS had more than 13,000 children in custody and they stayed in detention for about two months.


'Arctic outbreak' brings record cold temperatures to Plains, East Coast

Much of the U.S., from the Great Plains to the East Coast, was hit with record-breaking cold and snowfall on Tuesday. Thirty percent of the continental U.S. is blanketed in snow, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates. The "arctic outbreak" was expected to reach the upper Texas coast on Wednesday. "The arctic airmass that has settled into the Plains will continue to spread record cold temperatures south and eastward into the Ohio Valley and down into the southern Plains," according to the National Weather Service. By Wednesday, temperatures in an estimated 300 locations will tie or break cold-weather records.


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