Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 4, 2019

Harold Maass
Kamala Harris after the 5th debate
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images


House Democrats release report making case for impeaching Trump

The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday voted along party lines to send its impeachment report to the Judiciary Committee. Democrats earlier in the day publicly released the report, which explains their arguments for impeaching President Trump. The Democrats accused Trump of soliciting help from Ukraine to help him get re-elected by launching investigations targeting Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. The report also said that Trump had directed an "unprecedented" effort to obstruct Congress' investigation. The public release of the report capped weeks of closed-door depositions and public hearings. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham called the impeachment inquiry a "one-sided sham process" that turned up no evidence of wrongdoing. [CNN, Reuters]


Kamala Harris suspends her presidential campaign

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday that she was ending her presidential campaign, which foundered after a brief summertime surge. The news came after reports of campaign infighting and soft support from African Americans and other key voting blocs. Harris blamed a lack of money. "I'm not a billionaire. I can't fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it's become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete," Harris wrote in an email to supporters. "In good faith, I can't tell you, my supporters and volunteers, that I have a path forward if I don't believe I do." Harris, 55, has been seen as a rising star in the party, but critics said she had trouble making a concise pitch for why she should get the 2020 nomination. [Los Angeles Times]


Trump, Macron clash over NATO's future ahead of summit

President Trump clashed with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday over NATO ahead of a summit of the Western military alliance's leaders. Trump said Macron was "very, very nasty" after Macron likened what he said was NATO's lack of a clear post-Cold-War strategic purpose to "brain death." Trump also questioned whether the U.S. should fulfill its NATO obligation to defend any member that is "delinquent" on the target defense spending of 2 percent of GDP. Macron stood by his comments on NATO. "If we invest money and put our soldiers' lives at risk in theaters of operation we must be clear about the fundamentals of NATO," he said in a tweet at the end of a day. Macron also criticized Turkey for what he said was coziness with Islamic State allies. [Reuters]


Court says Deutsche Bank must give Congress Trump's financial records

A federal appeals court in New York ruled Tuesday that Deutsche Bank must give documents on President Trump's finances to two House committees. The decision marked the latest in a string of court defeats for Trump in cases involving his tax returns and other financial documents. Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow called the congressional subpoenas issued to Deutsche Bank and Capital One "invalid," and said "we are evaluating our next options including seeking review at the Supreme Court of the United States." Trump has seven days to ask the Supreme Court to put a hold on the ruling before the banks have to respond. Deutsche Bank became Trump's main lender after he went through several bankruptcies and defaulted on loans, costing other banks hundreds of millions of dollars. [The New York Times]


House votes to rebuke China over Uighur crackdown

The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act seeking sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for the "arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment" of a million Uighur Muslims, Kazakhs, and other minority groups in China's far west Xinjiang province. The measure also seeks to restrict U.S. exports of artificial intelligence and other technology that China might use to surveil and "re-educate" its predominantly Muslim detainees in internment camps. The bill passed 407 to 1. It now goes to the Senate. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said it will hold "Chinese officials accountable for egregious and ongoing human rights abuses." China reacted angrily, accusing Congress of smearing "the human rights condition in Xinjiang" and slandering "China's efforts in de-radicalization and counter-terrorism." [BBC News, MarketWatch]


Google CEO Sundar Pichai replacing co-founder Larry Page as Alphabet CEO

Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are stepping back from the daily operations of Google-parent Alphabet, where Page is CEO and Brin is president. Both will remain on the board of the company, the co-founders announced in a Tuesday letter. Google's CEO Sundar Pichai will take over Page's role leading the Google parent company and remain in his current job. "With Alphabet now well-established, and Google and the Other Bets operating effectively as independent companies," Brin and Page wrote, "Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a president." So Pichai, who has "worked closely with us for 15 years," will assume Page's role and keep the one he's in. Pichai has reportedly already been the company's de facto leader in recent years. [NBC News, Google]


House Judiciary Committee launches second phase of impeachment process

The House impeachment focus shifts to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, as the panel holds its first hearing in the second phase of the inquiry into President Trump's dealings with Ukraine. The House Intelligence Committee conducted the first phase of the inquiry, using closed-door depositions and public hearings to investigate whether Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. The Judiciary Committee's role in the process is to determine whether the findings in the Intelligence Committee's report, which was released Tuesday, constituted impeachable "high crimes and misdemeanors." The panel will get started by questioning four legal scholars on the constitutional basis for impeachment, and whether Trump's actions crossed the line. [The Washington Post, The New York Times]


Iran's president says innocent gas-hike protesters should be released

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday made a televised speech calling for releasing unarmed and innocent people among those detained during widespread unrest. Iranians have participated in protests against gasoline price hikes in more than 100 cities over the last two weeks, leading to violent clashes. The protests turned political in some places as demonstrators called for clerical leaders to step aside. "Religious and Islamic clemency should be shown and those innocent people who protested against petrol price hikes and were not armed ... should be released," Rouhani said. Iran's clerical rulers have blamed the unrest on "thugs," Iranian exiles, and foreign enemies, including the U.S. and Israel. [Reuters]


Record 189.6 million Americans shopped over 5-day Thanksgiving weekend

A record 189.6 million Americans joined in the five-day Thanksgiving weekend shopping frenzy, the National Retail Federation said Tuesday. The figure amounted to a 14 percent jump compared to last year. About 48 million people only shopped in brick-and-mortar stores, while 66 million shopped only online and 77 million bought in stores and online. "Americans continue to start their holiday shopping earlier in the year, and Thanksgiving is still a critical weekend for millions," said Matthew Shay, president of NRF. Cyber Monday has overtaken Black Friday as the biggest day for sales, causing retailers to rethink the way they offer discounts to kick off the crucial holiday shopping season. [The Washington Post]


The Irishman, Adam Sandler among National Board of Review winners

The National Board of Review on Tuesday announced its yearly awards and selected Martin Scorsese's The Irishman as best film, with Adam Sandler winning best actor for Uncut Gems, Renée Zellweger winning best actress for Judy, Brad Pitt winning best supporting actor for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Kathy Bates winning best supporting actress for Richard Jewell. These awards, selected by a group that includes industry professionals and academics, don't always line up with the Oscars, but can give a sense of where films stand in the lead up to the Academy Awards. Sandler gets a boost in the best actor race seeing as recent National Board of Review winners like Viggo Mortensen and Matt Damon have also scored Oscar nominations. [Entertainment Weekly]