Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 15, 2021

Joint Chiefs chair reportedly feared Trump 'Reichstag moment' after election, judge approves sale of Surfside condo collapse site, and more


Joint Chiefs chair reportedly feared Trump 'Reichstag moment' after election

Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Gen. Mark A. Milley worried former President Donald Trump would attempt to use the military to illegitimately retain power after his election loss last year, Washington Post journalists Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker report in their forthcoming book, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year. Per the book, Milley told friends and colleagues he was "on guard" for a "Reichstag moment" but did not expect Trump to prevail. Trump and his supporters "may try [a coup], but they're not going to f--king succeed," Milley reportedly said. "You can't do this without the military. You can't do this without the CIA and the FBI. We're the guys with the guns."


Judge approves sale of Surfside condo collapse site to benefit survivors, victims' families

A Florida judge on Wednesday approved the sale of the site of the Champlain Towers South, the condo building in Surfside, Florida, that collapsed in June leaving at least 97 people dead. Proceeds of the sale, which is expected to bring around $100 million, will go to survivors of the collapse and victims' families. The land's use after its sale will be a point of contention. Some survivors have said they would like to move into a new building reconstructed on the same site; some family members of victims, however, would prefer to redevelop it only as a memorial.


Haiti assassination probe involves presidential security chief, ex-senator

Haitian authorities on Wednesday identified several new suspects in the investigation of the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse last week. One is Dimitri Herard, head of the General Security Unit of the National Palace where Moïse lived and died. Herard was detained by the Haitian National Police but has not been arrested. Authorities are also searching for former Haitian Sen. John Joël Joseph, a vocal critic of Moïse and his party. A convicted cocaine smuggler and a former anti-corruption official fired on ethical grounds are also sought.


German flooding leaves 20 dead, dozens missing

Heavy flooding in western Germany killed at least 20 people Wednesday night, and dozens more are missing. About 50 people are trapped on their roofs awaiting rescue as of Thursday morning, local officials said, and six houses collapsed in a village called Schuld. Around half a dozen people have died elsewhere in Germany in connection to the unusual rainfall, and two also died in related flooding in neighboring Belgium. Authorities in the Netherlands, France, and Luxembourg ordered evacuations and road closures as downpours continue there as well.


Reports: Iran deal talks could resume in the fall

Tuesday's news that four Iranian intelligence operatives are alleged to have tried to kidnap a writer in Brooklyn, who is a U.S. citizen and a critic of Tehran, will not preclude further U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations, an unnamed U.S. official told Politico Wednesday. Preserving and rejoining the Iran nuclear deal is among the Biden administration's "most important and urgent concerns," the official said. Meanwhile, an Iranian diplomatic source told Reuters Tehran also wants to proceed, but not before early fall, when a new presidential administration will begin.


Demonstrators protest vaccine mandates in Athens, Paris

Two European capitals on Wednesday saw large protests against new COVID-19 vaccine mandates. In Athens, thousands assembled to demonstrate against Greek authorities' vaccination mandate for medical workers and its ban on unvaccinated people entering some public, indoor spaces, like bars and theaters, through the end of August. They called for the resignation of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. In Paris, demonstrators opposed a similar French rule requiring a vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test to enter restaurants and entertainment venues. "It's totally arbitrary and wholly undemocratic," one French protester said.


Federal regulators sue Amazon over hazardous product recalls

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a federal agency that reports directly to the president and Congress, filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Wednesday alleging the online retail giant refuses to recall hazardous products at regulators' direction. The suit claims Amazon flouted CPSC rules for removing unsafe wares listed on its site, usually by small, third-party sellers. Amazon says it is "unclear as to why the CPSC has rejected" a prior offer to expand its recall procedure or why the agency has "filed a complaint seeking to force us to take actions almost entirely duplicative of those we've already taken."


Britney Spears permitted to hire her own lawyer in conservatorship case

Britney Spears won the right to hire her own representation in her case challenging the conservatorship her father, Jamie Spears, holds over her, a legal arrangement in which the elder Spears controls his daughter's finances and many of her day-to-day choices on the grounds that she is unfit to make these decisions herself. In court on Wednesday, the pop star said "this conservatorship has allowed my dad to ruin [her] life" and that her goal is to "get rid of [her] dad and charge him with conservatorship abuse." If Jamie Spears "loves his daughter, it is time to step aside — to move forward," her new attorney said.


DOJ report: FBI gravely mishandled gymnastics abuse case

FBI agents failed to appropriately investigate allegations of sexual abuse of gymnasts by former Olympic doctor Larry Nassar, charged a report published by the Justice Department's inspector general on Wednesday. Nassar is currently serving a de facto life sentence after pleading guilty to multiple accounts of sexual assault of minors, possession of child pornography, and more. Federal agents didn't respond to the claims with the "seriousness and urgency" needed, the report said, interviewing only one of the three gymnasts who told USA Gymnastics officials about Nassar's conduct in 2015. Nassar was not arrested until the following year.


Sentencing delayed in Mollie Tibbetts' murder case after new witnesses emerge

The sentencing of Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who was convicted of the 2018 murder of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, was delayed Wednesday after two new witnesses emerged. A fresh trial could be scheduled at a hearing Thursday. In his initial trial, Bahena Rivera admitted to placing Tibbetts' body in a cornfield but claimed he was forced to do so by two masked men, a story the prosecution deemed fantastical. Defense attorneys now say prosecutors failed to disclose an investigation of an alleged sex trafficking "trap house" near where Tibbetts was killed. The defense has also found two witnesses who say another man confessed to the murder.


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