He was caught red-handed. A scandal over secret pre-inauguration communications with Russia had been growing all weekend, but last night — shortly after it was revealed the Justice Department had warned President Donald Trump’s administration that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail — the embattled former general resigned. In his resignation letter, Flynn admitted to “inadvertently” briefing then Vice President-elect Pence with “incomplete information.” While some lawmakers call for an investigation into Flynn’s behavior and other possible security risks, retired Army Gen. Keith Kellogg will temporarily fill Flynn’s shoes.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Opposites attract. Today the Canadian prime minister met with the U.S. president in D.C. to discuss their joint priorities. Despite different political beliefs and personalities, the two stressed how their countries will focus on working together, including the launch of a joint taskforce to improve conditions for women in the workplace. “The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country,” Trudeau said about their different approaches to governance. But he also noted how the two nations have long been, and will continue to be, great allies.
Freedom of speech takes another hit. In Lahore, Pakistan, a bomb that went off at a protest rally has killed at least eleven today, and wounded 58. As hundreds of pharmacists protested against amendments to drug sale laws, a motorcyclist plowed into the crowd, creating the blast. Fatalities include a senior police officer and a former provincial counterterrorism chief. The terror attack has been claimed by a Taliban faction, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, with more details of fatalities and injuries yet to emerge.
It’s a snowpocalypse. In the French Alps, an avalanche at the Tignes ski resort led to the deaths of four people, including a ski instructor and three members of the same family. The group was buried in an off-piste area, despite the resort warning of a 3 out of 5 avalanche risk. Five more people remain missing in the avalanche that had an epic 400 meter wide span. Despite a team of 40 rescuers looking for survivors, the sheer magnitude of the avalanche makes the chances of finding anyone alive slim.
The swagger’s gone. North Korea launched a missile into the Sea of Japan yesterday while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited President Donald Trump. Abe said the test was “absolutely intolerable,” while Trump — who’s talked tough about nuclear-armed North Korea before — didn’t even mention Pyongyang, instead focusing on U.S. solidarity with “Japan, its great ally.” Meanwhile, national security adviser Michael Flynn’s future is uncertain as accusations fly that he made possibly illegal foreign policy calls before President Trump took office, with top officials declining to come to his defense.
This is not a drill. Nearly 200,000 people living below the Oroville dam in Northern California were ordered to evacuate after a week in which engineers scrambled to deal with a structural failure in the reservoir’s emergency spillway. A crack had appeared shortly after the dam reached its 3.5 million acre-feet capacity last Tuesday, and officials who issued the warning said they expected the spillway to fail within an hour. It didn’t — last minute efforts to plug the hole paid off — but officials caution that the situation is still unpredictable.
When you’ve lost the public trust, you’ve lost everything. Protests in Bucharest and across Romania have continued for nearly two straight weeks, sparked by the government’s introduction of an emergency decree decriminalizing some corruption offenses. Romania’s anti-corruption directorate is one of the country’s few trusted institutions, and hundreds of thousands of enraged citizens spurred officials to respond. They rescinded the edict and Justice Minister Florin Lordache resigned last week. Protests seemed to be waning — but this weekend saw more massive demonstrations seeking Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu’s resignation.
Is there a chill? Ivory Coast has detained six editors and three publishers for reporting on troop revolts over unpaid back wages, with public prosecutors accusing the newspapers — some notoriously critical of President Alassane Ouattara — of spreading false information. Meanwhile, the British government is seeking to increase potential prison sentences for whistleblowers and investigative journalists from two to 14 years while reclassifying obtaining or disseminating sensitive information as espionage. While officials say they consulted with civil rights groups and the media about the changes, many say the consultations weren’t substantive.
Know This: At his first meeting with President Trump today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to focus on key trading relationships. The president of Turkmenistan has been re-elected with 98 percent of the vote. And a Frenchman is suing Uber for nearly $48 million after the ride-hailing app sent updates about his location that revealed the affair he was having to his now ex-wife.
Remember These Odds: 11 to 10. That’s the chance British betting firm Ladbrokes gives President Trump of being removed from office or resigning — just shy of even money. Professional bookies say Trump’s unpredictability has been a windfall for casual betting markets.
Talk to Us: We want your feedback on the Presidential Daily Brief — what you think we’re doing right and what we should be doing differently. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I thought it was her year.” So said British singer Adele after her album 25 and song “Hello” trumped favorite Beyoncé in Album of the Year and Record of the Year, respectively, at last night’s Grammy Awards. Beyoncé’s Lemonade was widely expected to win big after securing nine nominations, and even Adele appeared surprised when her name was called, dedicating much of her speech to Queen Bey. Elsewhere during the star-studded ceremony, Chance the Rapper was awarded Best New Artist, while the late David Bowie’s “Blackstar” won five gilded gramophones.
Time to unplug, but just halfway. As the internet grows ever-more present — and ever faster — some people are using technology to try to slow life down, embracing not just old-school dial-up access at cafés, but apps that delay opening messages for up to a decade or that ask you to focus on the things you’ve already accomplished instead of your yet-to-be-done list. It’s a half-detox from digital overload, say fans, who’d rather step back a bit than renounce online life and move into a cave.
Is the nationalist tide ebbing? Three-fifths of Swiss voters have approved a measure aimed at easing the path to citizenship for third-generation immigrants born and raised in Switzerland, after opponents of the referendum argued it would erode “Swiss values” as more Muslims become citizens. In fact, about 60 percent of the 25,000 people who’d be affected by the change, which requires a constitutional amendment, are of Italian descent. The referendum could have far-reaching future implications, though, as about a quarter of Switzerland’s population of 8 million is currently foreign-born.
It’s no way to get into one’s good books. Thieves rappelling into a warehouse near Heathrow Airport allegedly stole more than 160 rare volumes heading for the California Book Fair. Reports indicate the gang of robbers targeted specific books, including a 1506 edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy and works by Isaac Newton and Leonardo da Vinci, and that they may have been working on behalf of a specific collector. The works could prove difficult to resell, as experts will be on the lookout for the stolen editions.
It’s an exodus. Several NFL players have indicated they’ve dropped out of an all-inclusive trip to the Holy Land after the country’s tourism minister expressed hope the athletes would become “ambassadors of good will for Israel.” In response, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett announced his decision to drop out of the trip, expressing sympathy for Palestinians and saying he didn’t want to “be used.” Others, reportedly including Bennett’s brother Martellus of the Super Bowl-winning Patriots, have followed his lead, and now just seven of the original 11 players are expected in Israel today.