Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 25, 2020

Several Pence staffers reportedly test positive for coronavirus, Murkowski to back Barrett confirmation after losing 'procedural fight,' and more


Several Pence staffers reportedly test positive for coronavirus

Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Marc Short tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, Pence spokesman Devin O'Malley confirmed, adding that Pence and second lady Karen Pence both tested negative. The vice president is considered a close contact of Short, but O'Malley said he won't go into quarantine and will "maintain his schedule in accordance with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines for essential personnel." Another person briefed on the developments reportedly told The New York Times that three additional Pence staffers tested positive for the virus, but O'Malley did not immediately respond to a question about those cases. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Marty Obst, a Pence adviser, also recently tested positive. Per Bloomberg, both Obst and Short are experiencing minor COVID-19 symptoms.


Murkowski to back Barrett confirmation after losing 'procedural fight'

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Saturday that she will vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court when the Republican-led Senate takes up her nomination Monday. Murkowski broke with the GOP and opposed moving forward with the vote because of the proximity to the presidential election, but said "frankly, I've lost that procedural fight" and "I do not hold it against [Barrett] as an individual who has navigated the gauntlet with grace, skill, and humility." Murkowski's decision leaves Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as the lone Republican expected to vote against Barrett this week. Collins' opposition is similarly based on her belief that the Senate should not vote to confirm a justice before the election.


Trump takes campaign to New Hampshire

President Trump will continue his busy campaign weekend with a Sunday trip to New Hampshire, a state that he lost narrowly in 2016. Reuters notes that it's not considered a "top-tier battleground," and most polls show Trump's Democratic competitor, former Vice President Joe Biden, enjoying a comfortable advantage, but the Trump campaign is still hoping to flip the state as part of a last-ditch effort to close the gap in the race. Trump spent Saturday hosting rallies in three other key swing states — Ohio, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. In Ohio, Trump assured his supporters that "we have 10 days, and nothing worries me" despite what polls are suggesting about the outcome of the election. Biden doesn't have any official campaigning on the docket for Sunday, though he spent Saturday making his case in his native Pennsylvania.


Report: Trump told donors it could be 'very tough' for GOP to hold Senate

President Trump privately told donors this past Thursday at a fundraiser in Nashville, Tennessee, that he isn't sure the Republican Party will maintain its Senate majority after the upcoming election, The Washington Post reports. "I think the Senate is tough actually," Trump apparently said at the event, an attendee told the Post on condition of anonymity. "The Senate is very tough. There are a couple senators I can't really get involved in. I just can't do it. You lose your soul if you do. I can't help some of them. I don't want to help some of them." Instead, the president reportedly said he believes the GOP will "take back the House," although many Republican officials and strategists consider that a long shot.


At least 24 killed in suicide bombing in Kabul

At least 24 people were killed and 57 injured Saturday during a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, the interior ministry said. The explosion occurred outside an education center in Dasht-e-Barchi, a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in the western section of the capital, per The Associated Press. Most of the victims were students between the ages of 15 and 26, the health ministry said. The Islamic State, which said it was behind a similar attack that killed 34 students at an education center in 2018, claimed responsibility for the most recent incident, as well, although the militant group did not provide any evidence. The Taliban denied any involvement with the attack.


D.C. archbishop to become 1st Black American cardinal

Pope Francis on Sunday named 13 new cardinals in an announcement from his studio window to those gathered in St. Peter's Square. Among those chosen by Francis was Washington, D.C., Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who Francis picked to lead the diocese last year. He is the first Black American to earn the title of cardinal. The decision was expected since Washington archbishops historically have been named as cardinals following their appointments. The 72-year-old Gregory will be eligible to vote for the next pope until he turns 80. The Vatican said the ceremony to name the new cardinals will take place Nov. 28. It's unclear if and how coronavirus restrictions will affect the process.


Spain declares nationwide state of emergency amid 2nd coronavirus wave

Spain has declared a second nationwide state of emergency and ordered an overnight curfew across the country because of rising coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Sunday. The Canary Islands won't be subject to the 11 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew. Spain's 19 regional leaders will have the authority to lengthen the curfew hours, close regional borders, and limit gatherings to six people who don't live together, the prime minister added. The previous state of emergency was declared in March, when the coronavirus first began spreading rapidly in Spain. That was lifted in June. The spread of the virus slowed after that, but Spain is now one of several European countries experiencing a second wave of cases.


Samsung chair Lee Kun-hee dies at 78

Samsung chair Lee Kun-hee died Sunday, the South Korean electronics company announced. He was 78. Samsung did not provide a cause of death, but Lee had been incapacitated in a hospital since suffering a heart attack in 2014. During that time he remained Samsung's chair. Lee, whose father founded Samsung, spent more than three decades leading the company, and he is credited with transforming it into a global brand that reached beyond South Korea, The Wall Street Journal notes. He was able to push the company into the no. 1 position in televisions, smartphones, and memory chips, though his success did not come without controversy. He was convicted once for bribery and another time for embezzlement and tax evasion, but was pardoned both times. Lee is survived by his wife, son, and two daughters.


1st 'murder hornet' nest discovered in U.S. removed

A team from the Washington State Department of Agriculture successfully removed the first Asian giant hornet nest found in the United States on Saturday, just two days after it was first located near Blaine, Washington, by entomologists. The mission involved vacuuming "numerous specimens" out of the nest. The Asian giant hornets, known colloquially as "murder hornets," began grabbing headlines late last year when they were discovered in Washington state. The two-inch hornets are not native to the U.S., and there is concern that they could wreak havoc on the nation's honey bee population if they established themselves on the other side of the Pacific. Scientists expect that the recently eradicated nest is not the only one around.


Rays draw even with Dodgers in World Series after wild Game 4 finish

The Tampa Bay Rays evened up the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday evening with a stunning Game 4 victory. After a back-and-forth affair, Rays outfielder Brett Phillips, who had previously entered the game as a pinch-runner, came up to the plate with runners on first and second and his club trailing 7-6 in the bottom of the ninth. He tied the game by lacing a two-strike pitch from Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen into center field, where Chris Taylor bobbled the ball, prompting Tampa Bay's Randy Arozarena to try to score from first. He stumbled while flying around third, but the relay throw got away from Los Angeles catcher Will Smith, and Arozarena dove safely into home for the win. The clubs will face off in Game 5 on Sunday night, with Clayton Kershaw taking the mound for the Dodgers. Tyler Glasnow will get the start for the Rays.


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