Are his days numbered? Multiple media reports claim there’s a White House plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. That would cap a turbulent year for Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, whose tenure has been marred by public tensions with Trump and sharp criticism of how he’s run the State Department. Pompeo, meanwhile, has proven himself a loyal member of Trump’s national security team. Still, it’s unclear whether the president has approved the plan, reportedly assembled by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He’ll retweet, but not retreat. After President Trump retweeted three unverified videos from a fringe British fascist group purporting to show Muslim violence, a spokesperson for Downing Street said it was “wrong” for him to endorse such content. Trump responded with a tweet to Prime Minister Theresa May telling her to focus on “radical Islamic terrorism” instead. When the veracity of the retweeted videos, which are still on Trump’s page, was questioned, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real.”
They’re open for business. Though President Trump demanded a deep slash in the corporate rate, from the current 35 percent to 20 percent, Republicans in the Senate are reportedly wavering on the number as they open their tax reform bill for debate. By raising the corporate rate to 21 or 22 percent, moderates say they could preserve the child tax credit — but others refuse to go above 20 percent. A vote is expected as early as tonight, via a fast-track procedure that will also let lawmakers offer unlimited amendments.
“I reject your verdict.” Those were the words of Slobodan Praljak, 72, who drank poison in a courtroom at the Hague immediately after his 20-year prison sentence was upheld on appeal. Praljak died later at a nearby hospital. He’d been convicted of war crimes by the U.N. for his conduct during the 1990s conflict in the Balkans, though Croatia’s prime minister maintains that his conviction was a “deep moral injustice.” Dutch authorities have launched an investigation into how Praljak managed to smuggle poison into the courtroom.
Was he in like Flynn? Last month, the president’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner was reportedly interviewed by the special counsel investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. The interview focused on a post-election meeting involving Kushner, Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and former Trump adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign in February over misleading the vice president about his conversations with Kislyak. Last week, Flynn cut ties with White House lawyers, thought to be a sign that he’s cooperating with the investigation.
Know This: The U.S. is urging all nations of the world to cut economic ties with North Korea. Argentina has sentenced 29 people to life in prison for crimes committed during the country’s bloody dictatorship that began in the mid-1970s. And both actor Geoffrey Rush and radio star Garrison Keillor have been accused of inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
Remember This Number: $53 billion. That’s how much Britain may have agreed to pay as a divorce bill in Brexit negotiations, a sum that may help it win a transitional deal with the EU — but that is unlikely to be the last capitulation that the U.K. makes as it attempts to navigate the many issues raised by Brexit.
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They say he was the hostile work environment. After Today show anchor Matt Lauer was fired over allegations of sexual misconduct, at least two more women came forward to say they’d been sexually harassed by him. Three anonymous women made claims about Lauer’s behavior to Variety, including that he exposed himself to female colleagues and that such complaints went unanswered by management. One woman interviewed by The New York Times claimed he locked her in his office and sexually assaulted her. Lauer said he’s “truly sorry,” adding that some allegations were “untrue.”
Now everyone can get the blues. Britain will soon begin selling sildenafil — better known as Viagra — over the counter, becoming the world’s first country to do so after the medicine was reclassified. In a bid to combat booming online sales of counterfeit pills, men over the age of 18 will be able to secure the “miracle drug” after a chat with a pharmacist. It won’t be cheap, though: A four-pack will set customers back about $27. Over-the-counter sales are due to begin in early 2018.
Go Midwest, young man. Tech accelerators in the Twin Cities are drawing retail innovation startups toward the center of the country. There, young firms can find incubators and angel investors — thanks to the area’s generous share of Fortune 500 companies — and a legacy of entrepreneurship and smart investment. But local corporate culture remains somewhat risk-averse, and a key program offering tax breaks for new tech startups was axed this year, presenting twin challenges to keeping the Midwestern metro’s momentum going.
They’re under pressure. Scientists have difficulty studying the Mariana trench, the deepest waters in the world, where human divers can’t explore. But cameras and traps have revealed a new species that swims more than 26,000 feet below the surface: the Mariana snailfish. Scaleless and translucent, the two-inch snailfish must withstand the darkness and extreme pressure of the ocean’s hadopelagic zone — but with few predators and many tiny crustaceans to eat, they appear to be thriving. Marine biologists say the find is a peek into virtually uncharted waters.
They want a deal on kneeling. In an attempt to ease tensions with players peacefully protesting racial injustice, the NFL’s drafted a plan to donate tens of millions to causes focused on the Black community over the next seven years. Owners would donate $250,000 annually to their communities, with hopes that players would chip in to match that amount. The Players Coalition, which has been negotiating with league officials, is discussing the offer, though two prominent protesters have already quit the alliance. If owners and players agree, the program could be finalized in March.