The hits keep coming. President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI earlier this year about his interaction with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The former general is the fourth person to have been charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe investigating the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia, and court records reveal Flynn’s contact with Kislyak may have been guided by senior campaign officials. His plea also suggests he’s willing to cooperate with Mueller by offering authorities potentially incriminating information on others.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Someone’s got their number. As Republicans prepared for a swift vote on their tax overhaul plan yesterday, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation released its analysis of the bill’s impact — and predicted it would add about $1 trillion to the country’s deficit. Meanwhile, Senate rulemakers determined that the bill can’t include a “trigger” to automatically reverse corporate tax cuts if the economy doesn’t adequately grow, another thing likely to deter deficit hawks whose votes will be crucial to passage. Voting has been deferred until today at the earliest.
The jury didn’t play politics. Undocumented Mexican immigrant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was acquitted of murder yesterday in the death of Kate Steinle, an unexpected verdict in a case often invoked by President Donald Trump on the campaign trail to argue for immigration reform. Steinle was killed by a ricocheting bullet fired by Garcia Zarate, a homeless man with felony convictions and five prior deportations. Kate’s Law, a bill that would stiffen penalties for immigrants caught illegally re-entering the country after being deported, has stalled in the Senate.
They were disguised in burqas. Police say at least three attackers, who arrived in a rickshaw, stormed the Agricultural Training Institute in Peshawar, Pakistan today, killing nine people and wounding another 36. The militants, claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, were also killed. A majority of the 400 students at the college were home for a long weekend: Today is a public holiday in Pakistan to celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. Meanwhile, the Taliban claims it wasn’t targeting the school, but a nearby safehouse used by Pakistani intelligence services.
Are his days numbered? Senior administration officials have confirmed that the White House plans to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. That would cap a turbulent year for Tillerson, whose tenure has been marred by public tensions with President 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 orchestrated by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Trump called the reports “fake news.”
Know This: Japan has set the date of Emperor Akihito’s abdication for April 30, 2019. Argentine authorities say they’ll only continue looking in shallow waters for a submarine that went missing two weeks ago, saying that none of the 44 people aboard are expected to be found alive. And Tesla has activated the world’s largest lithium ion battery in Australia, in a bid to aid the country’s south with its ongoing electricity problems.
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Talk to Us: Tell us how you really feel. Our electrifying TV show, Third Rail With OZY, is shelving the PC and whipping up debates. Each week we’re posting a provocative question, and we want you to weigh in. This week: Is foreign aid a waste of money? Why or why not? Go deep. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, and we might feature your answer next week.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Medical marijuana’s made major gains in the United States, but a new report predicts that within five years, Europe could become the world’s leading market, potentially worth more than $40 billion, thanks to loosening legislation and shifting social attitudes. It’s still got a long way to go — an EU-wide executive order from Brussels would provide a significant boost for the fledgling industry — but medical marijuana is already becoming an increasingly accepted treatment in the Old World.
The business is growing. The Farmers Business Network, which uses data analytics to help small farmers squeezed by big agriculture, has raised $110 million in seed money from investors. The subscription-based network allows farmers to share crop data and industry information — knowledge that can help them choose seeds, pesticides, vendors and even new technologies. So far some 5,000 farmers have signed up. The financing is one of the largest ever for the ag-tech industry and may signal a new interest in data-driven farming for investors.
They’re washing away. Unlike the cities and towns along the Gulf Coast, which have borne the brunt of devastating storms, Alaska’s seaside settlements haven’t seen many hurricanes — but they’re still under threat. As the protective shield of sea ice around the Last Frontier melts away, they’re increasingly vulnerable to ordinary storms that sweep farther ashore and erode more land. In some places, average coastal erosion has doubled over the last half-century, researchers say, prompting closer monitoring to warn residents when they need to relocate and to help secure federal relief funds.
Take us back to Mayberry. Nabors, best known for his role on The Andy Griffith Show and its spinoff, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., died yesterday at his home in Hawaii. Other than playing the wide-eyed country bumpkin Pyle — a respite for many from 1960s counterculture — the Alabama native recorded dozens of albums and for years sang “Back Home Again in Indiana” during opening ceremonies for the Indianapolis 500. In 2013 Nabors married his longtime partner Stan Cadwallader in Seattle, a month after gay marriage became legal in Washington.
Easy, Tiger. In his first competition in almost a year, Woods hit a 3-under-par 69 during the first round of the Hero World Challenge, leaving him tied for eighth but only three strokes behind leader Tommy Fleetwood. It’s better than many expected from Woods, currently ranked 1,199th in the world, after a fourth back surgery, DUI arrest and rehab — but the course was relatively gentle, with 15 of 18 players breaking par. Woods, 41, still has to make it through three rounds as the competition continues through the weekend.