The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty to Lying to Congress

    President Donald Trump’s former lawyer entered the plea at a New York court Thursday for making false statements to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2017 about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen had previously admitted to federal counts, including those involving his campaign work for President Trump. The guilty plea is part of a deal that requires cooperation with Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election.

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    Trump Cancels Meeting With Putin at G20

    Referencing Russia’s standoff with Ukraine, President Donald Trump canceled his planned meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Buenos Aires conference, which kicks off on Friday. In the debacle involving the Eastern European neighbors, Russia seized three Ukrainian ships, upsetting plans for leaders of the two countries to reconcile. President Trump announced his decision on Twitter saying it was, ”Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia.”

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    Democrats Tap Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker

    Yesterday the California congresswoman secured a closed-door nomination to her former post. But now comes the hard part: Although she won over a group of centrist holdouts, Pelosi still faces a Democratic opposition group that includes around a dozen freshmen representatives. She’ll need an absolute majority when the whole House votes Jan. 3, meaning she’ll need to persuade 15 of those who voted against her. “We go forward with confidence and humility,” she said. Democrats also elected Rep. Steny Hoyer as majority leader and Rep. James Clyburn as majority whip.

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    US Senate Takes Aim at Saudi Arabia

    In a rebuke to both President Donald Trump and Riyadh, the Senate approved a resolution yesterday to withdraw U.S. military support from the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war. The bipartisan 63-37 vote signaled lawmakers want to punish Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Though the secretaries of state and defense lobbied against the measure, the mood toward the kingdom has darkened: “It’s time to send Saudi Arabia a message,” said Sen. Bob Menendez. Still, the resolution may need to wait for a new Congress to win House support.

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    Trump Floats Possibility of Manafort Pardon

    “We are in the McCarthy era.” So said President Trump in an interview yesterday lambasting special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and saying a pardon for his former campaign chair Paul Manafort wasn’t “off the table.” According to another report, Trump told Mueller in writing that political operative Roger Stone didn’t tell him about WikiLeaks’ release of hacked Democratic emails. The president also reportedly said he wasn’t told about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving his son, campaign officials and a Russian lawyer allegedly offering compromising information on Hillary Clinton.

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    Markets Rally After New Interest Rate Forecast

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 600 points yesterday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said interest rates were “just below” a growth-neutral level. The rally erased November’s losses as investors took his comments to mean an imminent rate hike was unlikely. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 climbed 61.62 points while the Nasdaq Composite jumped 208.89. Last month Powell — who’s been publicly criticized by President Trump — said rates were a “long way” from equilibrium. Those comments riled the market, where tech stocks in particular took a beating.

  7. Gene Editing, Afghanistan and Former Revolutionaries

    Know This: A group of leading international scientists has publicly declared that genetically editing human embryos — as a Chinese researcher claims he did this year — is irresponsible. At least 40 people have been killed in Afghanistan since early Wednesday in clashes between government troops and the Taliban. And China says it’s hoping for “positive results” during trade talks with the U.S. at the G-20 summit this week.

    Listen to This: Following a 2016 peace deal with the Colombian government, ex-FARC rebels are finding new ways to stay employed — including, among other things, turning their former camps into tourist attractions.

    We’re hiring: OZY is looking for a talented business reporter and editor to anchor our globally minded finance coverage, based in either Silicon Valley or New York. Could this be you? Check out the job description for more details … and find all our open jobs right here.


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    The Gender Pay Gap Is Worse Than You Thought

    A new study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates American women only bring home 49 cents for each dollar a man earns — a drastic reduction from the previous widely cited figure of 80 cents. Instead of comparing full-time wages for a given year, the study looked at earnings over 15-year periods. During those spans, women were more likely to quit paid work for family duties. The study’s authors suggest closing the child-care gap to crush pay discrepancies between the sexes.

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    China’s Private Rockets Are on the Up and Up

    Although a private Chinese firm failed this month in its first attempt to send a payload into orbit, don’t get used to such flubs. Currently China ranks fourth in private space investment — and it’s the fastest-growing market in the world. State support, often critical for private success in China, looks readily available as President Xi Jinping’s government shares military tech and access to facilities. No single Chinese firm rivals SpaceX just yet, but as companies expand into new aerospace market segments, they’ll be competing sooner rather than later.

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    Scientists Say Parkinson’s Treatment Rewires Brain

    Researchers have discovered how gene therapy relieves symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in some patients, according to a study published yesterday in Science Translational Medicine. Shaking and muscle stiffness caused by overstimulation of the subthalamic nucleus — the part of the brain that coordinates motor skills — were alleviated as gene therapy slowed activity in that area. The treatment blocked disease-causing pathways, prompting patients’ brains to develop new connections. Now the scientists, who described the effect as “adaptive rewiring,” are planning a larger gene therapy trial for Parkinson’s patients next year.

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    Report: Les Moonves Tried Covering Up Assault Allegation

    “If Bobbie talks, I’m finished.” That’s what the former CBS head allegedly told actress Bobbie Phillips’ manager, Marv Dauer, according to a New York Times exposé yesterday. The report, based on a trove of text messages between Moonves and Dauer, shows their attempt to cast Phillips in exchange for her silence over allegations that Moonves sexually assaulted her in 1995. Moonves’ actions detailed in the report, such as asking acquaintances to delete incriminating texts, could be seen as interfering in the CBS investigation and may jeopardize his $120 million exit package.

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    Redskins Claim Reuben Foster After Domestic Violence Arrest

    Wait for the audible. Head coach Jay Gruden says there’s “no guarantee” that Washington’s newest linebacker will ever take the field in a Redskins uniform. Foster was arrested and charged with domestic violence in Tampa, Florida, over the weekend — his third arrest this year — leading to his sacking by the San Francisco 49ers. Washington quickly signed Foster, a 2017 first-round pick, explaining they’d let the NFL investigate the charges before allowing him to suit up. “We’ll deal with the outcry,” said Gruden, predicting a potential backlash.