Daily Briefing

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

Tim O'Donnell
Michael Horowitz.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


DOJ watchdog report expected to find Russia investigation valid

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to release a report Monday rejecting President Trump's assertions that the investigation into 2016 Russian election interference was illegitimate due to political bias. The report is expected to conclude that there was adequate legal basis for opening the investigation, though it is also like to document multiple errors throughout the process. While Trump and his allies may focus on some of those, the White House will likely turn most of its focus toward a separate internal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe led by John Durham, a U.S. attorney, and overseen by U.S. Attorney General William Barr. [The Associated Press, The Hill]


North Korea conducts test of 'great significance'

North Korean state media reported Sunday that Pyongyang conducted a "successful test of a great significance" Saturday at a rocket testing ground, but did not reveal what was tested. U.S. officials have said North Korea promised to close the testing ground, but it appears that won't be the case any longer as Pyongyang's year-end deadline to reach a denuclearization agreement nears. Missile experts said its possible North Korea tested a solid fuel rocket engine, which could allow the country to field intercontinental ballistic missiles that are easier to hide and faster to deploy. "If it is indeed a static engine test for a new solid or liquid fuel missile, it is yet another loud signal that the door for diplomacy is quickly slamming," said Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. [BBC, Reuters]


Pensacola shooter's motive still under investigation

The suspected Saudi Arabian gunman — identified as Second Lt. Mohammad Saeed Alshamrani, an aviation student at the base who served in the Royal Saudi Air Force — who killed three people in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida, on Friday reportedly hosted a dinner party with three other students earlier this week, where they watched videos of mass shooting. A U.S. official said one of those students reportedly videotaped the building where the shooting was taking place, while the other two watched from a car. As of now, investigators are still determining the suspected shooter's motive and if there was anyone else involved. The case may be treated as an international terrorism investigation, although a senior U.S. official said the suspect does not have any apparent ties to international terrorist groups. [The Associated Press, The New York Times]


House Judiciary Committee Democrats release report on legal basis for impeachment

The House Judiciary Committee released a report Saturday geared toward defining what the Constitution's framers considered an impeachable offense. The report comes after four legal experts testified about the subject Wednesday in the committee's initial hearing in President Trump's impeachment inquiry. The report, which traces impeachment's origins to monarchical England, doesn't conclude that Trump should be impeached, leaving that decision up to the House as a whole. Still, there's seemingly some hints at what future articles of impeachment — which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked committee chairs to draft — might look like in the report, including abuse of power, betraying national security interests, and corrupting domestic elections for personal gain. [The New York Times, USA Today]


Massive crowd gathers for protest in Hong Kong

As Hong Kong's anti-government, pro-democracy protests near their sixth-month mark, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the city's streets Sunday, in one of the biggest rallies in months. The protests were largely peaceful throughout the day, though tensions escalated in the evening between riot police and some radical demonstrators leading to a standoff at a road junction beyond the approved end point of the procession. The rally was the first Civil Human Rights Front-planned demonstration to receive approval since August, which reportedly encouraged many Hong Kong residents, who had been remaining away from the rallies, to join the crowd. The protest appears to be a sign that the movement will continue with fervor in 2020. [Bloomberg, The South China Morning Post]


Trump delivers controversial speech to Israeli American Council

President Trump gave a 45-minute speech to the Israeli American Council in Hollywood, Florida, on Saturday evening. Trump spoke about his administration's decisions to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2017, move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and eliminate funding for the Palestine Authority as he urged those in attendance to vote for him as he runs for a second term in the Oval Office. Trump was reportedly regularly interrupted by the crowd's chants of "four more years" during the speech. The speech was not without controversy. Trump said there are Jewish people in the U.S. who don't love Israel enough, and said that if someone like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) gets elected to the presidency, instead, the people in the room would "be out of business in 15 minutes." [Haaretz, The Washington Post]


At least 43 people killed in New Delhi factory fire

A fire broke out in a five-story factory in New Delhi, India, early Sunday, killing at least 43 people. Laborers and factory workers were reportedly sleeping inside the building as the fire blazed and some died as a result of asphyxiation. Investigators are reportedly looking into whether the manufacturing unit was operating illegally. New Delhi's Deputy Chief Fire Officer Sunil Choudhary said "the problem was the smoke" and that no one could get out since all the doors and windows were closed. "It had become a toxic chamber," he said. Rescue work has been completed, and 16 people are still in the hospital. The cause of the fire remains unknown but it was reportedly aggravated by materials within the factory including plastic packing pouches and bags. [CNN, Al Jazeera]


Pearl Harbor ceremony honors of victims 1941 attack, recent shooting

Pearl Harbor commemorated Saturday the 78th anniversary of the surprise Japanese attack on the Hawaii naval base in 1941 that vaulted the United States into World War II. The event was attended by more than 2,000 people, including about a dozen men in their 90s who survived the event, and included a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., when the attack began 78 years ago. The silence was eventually broken by a flyover of Air Force fighter jets in missing man formation. The memorial was even more somber this year, as those in attendance also honored the two people —Vincent Kapoi Jr. and Roldan Agustin — who were shot and killed while working at the base Wednesday. [Fox News, The Washington Post]


SpaceX Dragon successfully docks with space station on resupply mission

NASA announced that SpaceX's Dragon capsule, which was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Thursday successfully docked with the International Space Station early Sunday morning, carrying with it 5,700 pounds of cargo. The cargo included supplies for the station's crew, pest-killing worms, and a robot. Research supplies will help support a number of experiments, such as one geared toward understanding how fire behaves in space. Sunday's docking was the 19th successful cargo flight to the space station conducted by SpaceX, and the company is preparing to launch more resupply missions at least through 2024, while also preparing to fly astronauts in the company's first ever-crewed mission. [CNN, CNBC]


College Football Playoff picture clears up

The College Football Playoff picture rounded into shape Saturday, and will be formally announced Sunday afternoon. LSU, Ohio State, and Clemson look like sure bets to take three of the four spots after winning the SEC, Big Ten, and ACC championships, respectively, to secure undefeated seasons. The fourth spot is still up for grabs, though it looks like Oklahoma has the best opportunity to claim it after defeating co-contender Baylor in the Big 12 championship. The Sooners chances were also helped by the fact that Oregon defeated fellow one-loss Utah in the Pac 12 title game on Friday night, likely knocking the Utes out of contention. [ESPN, Sports Illustrated]