Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 14, 2019

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Tim O'Donnell
Nadler and Collins.
SHAWN THEW/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

1.

House Judiciary Committee votes to advance impeachment articles to House

After debating the articles of impeachment against President Trump on Wednesday and Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee voted Friday to advance the articles for a full House vote. The committee approved both articles on party lines, 23-17. The first article is abuse of power, alleging Trump wrongly pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals ahead of the 2020 election. The second article is obstruction of Congress, alleging Trump improperly refused to comply with the impeachment inquiry and blocked officials from supplying lawmakers with documents and testimony. Trump called the Friday vote "an embarrassment to our country." The full House is expected to debate and vote on the articles next week. [The Associated Press, The New York Times]

2.

Supreme Court agrees to hear three cases on Trump's financial records

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear President Trump's appeal of three cases that involve subpoenas for his financial records, giving no explanation for the decision. Oral arguments for the separate cases are likely slated for March, with a decision expected at the end of June. In three separate cases, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, the House Oversight Committee, and the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees requested Trump's personal and business financial records. Trump's lawyers sued to block those subpoenas, but courts ruled against them. An appeal to the Supreme Court, after first getting stays on the rulings to block the records' immediate release to the oversight committee, was accepted Friday. Trump's lawyers have argued the subpoenas are not a legitimate legislative inquiry. [NBC News, The Washington Post]

3.

Washington, Beijing announce limited trade deal

The U.S. and China publicly announced a phase one trade deal on Friday, and indicated plans to sign it. The deal includes the U.S. rolling back some tariffs, including canceling tariffs on Chinese goods that were set to take effect on Sunday. Beijing has agreed to increase agricultural purchases, and is reportedly considering canceling some retaliatory tariffs. The deal is an effort to minimize the trade war that has simmered between the two countries for months. U.S. stocks surged after the deal was announced, but settled down after the initial jump. The White House will leave in place the 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion in imports, while cutting existing duties on another $120 billion in products to 7.5 percent, President Trump tweeted. [CNBC, Reuters]

4.

Democratic presidential candidates threaten to boycott debate over union strike

Top Democratic presidential candidates on Friday announced plans to boycott next week's debate, to show support for a union dispute at Loyola Marymount University, where the debate is to be held. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), businessman Andrew Yang, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), billionaire activist Tom Steyer, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg each independently announced they would not "cross the union's picket line even if it means missing the debate," as Warren wrote. Employees of LMU's food service provider Sodexo have been negotiating an agreement through a labor union for months, seeking higher wages and more affordable health care. [Politico, NBC News]

5.

North Korea conducts another test at satellite launch site

North Korea conducted its second successful test this week geared toward strengthening Pyongyang's nuclear deterrent at the Sohae satellite launch site Friday, state media said Saturday. Although North Korea's Academy of Defense Science didn't specify what was tested, the trial may have included technologies that could improve intercontinental ballistic missiles, The Associated Press reports. North Korea considers ICBMs as strategic defensive weapons. The test, in addition to one on Dec. 7, is widely seen as an attempt to pressure the Trump administration to make major concessions in nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. North Korea set a year-end deadline for the United States to change course from its insistence on unilateral denuclearization. [Reuters, The Associated Press]

6.

New Orleans declares state of emergency after cyberattack

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell signed a declaration of emergency Friday for the Louisiana city after phishing attempts and suspicious activity were detected on the city's network Friday morning. The city's information technology department then began to power down servers and city computers as a precaution. Ransomware was detected, but no ransom was demanded in the cyberattack, and the city doesn't believe any employee or city information was compromised during the phishing attempts. Collin Arnold, the city's director of homeland security, said New Orleans is prepared for situations in which it may need to operate without its network as a result of recent hurricane disasters. "We can operate without internet, without the city network," he said. [ABC News, CNN]

7.

Newsom rejects PG&E bankruptcy plan

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Friday rejected Pacific Gas & Electric's plan to pull itself out of bankruptcy and pay victims of California's wildfires because the utility company's proposal didn't meet safety requirements under state law. Newsom said PG&E fell "woefully short" of the safety benchmark and won't receive state assistance without implementing major changes to its plan. PG&E, whose faulty equipment has received blame for sparking some the state's recent fires, is on the hook for $30 billion in financial liabilities from California. The company pushed back against Newsom's comments, arguing its plan does conform to the safety requirements. PG&E has until Tuesday to revise its plan. [The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times]

8.

Sudan's ex-president receives 2-year sentence for corruption

Sudan's former President Omar al-Bashir, who was removed from power after 30 years earlier this year following nationwide protests, was sentenced Saturday to two years detention in a state-run reform center on financial irregularities and corruption charges. The 75-year-old reportedly is protected by a law that prevents anyone over the age of 70 from serving jail time. He will reportedly serve his sentence after a verdict is reached in another case in which he is accused of ordering security forces to kill the protesters in the movement that led to his removal, and he was also questioned about the 1989 coup in which he was brought to power. al-Bashir is also wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide in Sudan's Darfur region. [Al Jazeera, BBC]

9.

Violent protests over citizenship law continue in India

Violent protests continued in eastern India on Saturday, as demonstrators pushed back against a new citizenship law implemented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. Protesters set fire to buses and vandalized railroad stations. The law is centered on protecting religious minorities, such as Christians and Hindus, from persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh by granting them citizenship. But critics believe it weakens India's secular foundations and have criticized the government for excluding Muslims from the protections. Muslim rights groups in India believe it is another example of Modi's Hindu nationalist agenda. The prime minister has been accused of attempting to marginalize the country's Muslim population. Modi denies this and has said that Muslims are not included in the law because Islam is not a minority religion in those countries.

10.

Box office expecting strong weekend with Jumanji, Bombshell, Richard Jewell

Weekend moviegoers will have several major new releases to choose from, as Bombshell, Jumanji: The Next Level, Uncut Gems, Richard Jewell, and Black Christmas are all debuting to a wide release on Friday. The second installment of the Jumanji reboot turned in big numbers in Thursday previews and will likely even top Frozen II, which has led at the box office for three straight weekends. The Clint Eastwood-directed Richard Jewell has made headlines for its depiction of a real-life reporter, while Adam Sandler's Uncut Gems performance has sparked talk of a potential Oscar nomination. Another headlines-inspired film, Bombshell, features Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie in a depiction of Fox News reporters coming forward to take down ex-chief Roger Ailes. [Box Office Mojo]