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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 19, 2019

Bonnie Kristian
President Trump
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1.

Mueller denies report that Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress

Special Counsel Robert Mueller denied Friday night a sensational BuzzFeed News report alleging his investigation had compiled evidence President Trump directed Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower project. "BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the special counsel's office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's congressional testimony are not accurate," said Mueller representative Peter Carr. It was the first such denial the special counsel's office has offered since it was established in 2017. BuzzFeed News Editor Ben Smith said the site stood by its reporting and called on Mueller to clarify "what he's disputing." [The Washington Post]

2.

Trump plans 'major announcement' on border wall, shutdown

"I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown," President Trump announced on Twitter Friday evening. The statement is scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. Trump did not offer any further details on the nature of his announcement, nor did the White House press team respond to inquiries on the subject. CNN reported Friday night an unnamed senior administration official said the president plans to offer a deal to congressional Democrats and will not at this point make an emergency declaration so he can use military funding for wall construction. [CNN, CNBC]

3.

Second Trump-Kim summit slated for February

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet for a second summit in February, the White House said Friday, after Trump talked with North Korean negotiator Kim Yong Chol in Washington. The two discussed denuclearization, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said — a goal that has seen little public progress since the first Trump-Kim summit last June in Singapore. Kim Yong Chol is close with the North Korean leader and was expected to deliver a letter from Kim to Trump like he did before June's meeting. A location for the second summit is not yet set. [BBC News, Al Jazeera]

4.

Trump, Pence again address March for Life

Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence attended the annual March for Life in Washington for the second year in a row Friday, and President Trump again send a video message for demonstrators. Both touted their administration's opposition to abortion, with Pence pointing to Trump's record of judicial appointments. "As president, I will always defend the first right in our Declaration of Independence, the right to life," Trump said in his video remarks. The March for Life began in 1974 and is scheduled around the anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade. [NBC News, USA Today]

5.

Smaller crowds expected at Women's March amid anti-Semitism accusations

Saturday's third annual Women's March is expected to draw smaller crowds than in previous years thanks to accusations of anti-Semitism among national organizers. Former Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) formally withdrew her participation Friday, saying she "cannot associate with the national march's leaders and principles, which refuse to completely repudiate anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry." Other prominent speakers and sponsors from past years have cut ties as well. Saturday's events are organized in Washington, D.C., and hundreds of cities nationwide. Policy focuses this year include the minimum wage, health care, and opposition to President Trump. [The Hill, Reuters]

6.

Pentagon warns of harmful effects of climate change on military bases

About two-thirds of the U.S. military's priority installations are vulnerable to current or future effects of climate change, the Department of Defense reported to Congress Thursday. The report warned about rising sea levels flooding coastal bases and the dangers of drought-fueled wildfires spreading to bases inland. The Pentagon's findings contradict President Trump's previous denial of climate change's devastating effects. The Pentagon now plans to incorporate climate resilience in all future decision-making processes regarding resources, the report says, rather than making climate change response a separate program. [Bloomberg]

7.

Officer in Laquan McDonald shooting sentenced to less than 7 years

Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery for his fatal shooting of a black teenager named Laquan McDonald in 2014, was sentenced Friday to six years and nine months in prison. With good behavior, he could be out of custody in three years or less, his lawyer said. The special prosecutor who handled the case had requested a sentence of 18 to 20 years, and the sentence Van Dyke received is for the murder charge alone, not the battery. On Thursday, three other officers accused of falsifying reports to justify the shooting were acquitted. [The Associated Press, Chicago Tribune]

8.

Fireball explosion at Mexican fuel pipeline kills 21

At least 21 people were killed and more than 70 injured Friday when a fuel pipeline in Mexico exploded after being ruptured by fuel thieves. Dozens of people had gathered to collect the spilling fuel in plastic containers when the fireball occurred. Local authorities said the death toll could continue to rise given the severity of the injuries. Illegal pipeline taps like this one, about 60 miles north of Mexico City, are a chronic problem in Mexico; an average of 42 taps were drilled daily in the first 10 months of 2018. [Reuters, The Associated Press]

9.

Winter snowstorm to wallop Midwest, Northeast

Meteorologists predict a weekend full of snow and brutally cold temperatures across the Midwest and Northeast. Freezing winds and heavy snow could immobilize Chicago, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh, where temperatures are expected to feel far below zero degrees, factoring in windchill and precipitation. Experts say roads could be too icy for travel, and airports may experience delays and cancellations until the winter storm passes. Power outages are possible, and schools and businesses that were not already planning to close Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day may be unable to operate. [Accuweather]

10.

A Star Is Born and Roma expected to lead 2019 Oscar nominations

Critics expect A Star Is Born and Roma to lead the 2019 Oscar nominations, which will be announced Tuesday. The musical, starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, is on pace to be nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Original Song, among other awards. The Alfonso Cuarón Netflix drama will likely be recognized in Best Picture, Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, and more. The Best Picture category may also include Green Book, The Favourite, BlackKklansman, Vice, Black Panther, or Bohemian Rhapsody. The nominations will be announced Jan. 22 at 8:20 a.m. Eastern. [The Hollywood Reporter, Variety]