The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump’s Ex-Lawyer Recommended For Jail Time

    Prosecutors have suggested Michael Cohen serve a prison term despite cooperating with Robert Mueller’s investigation. President Donald Trump’s former lawyer pleaded guilty to tax evasion in August and various other allegations including making a false statement to Congress, admitting he lied about a supposed business endeavor Trump had in Russia. A sentencing recommendation is expected from Mueller’s office on Friday.

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    Trump Confirms UN Ambassador and Attorney General Nominations

    President Donald Trump confirmed Friday he will nominate Heather Nauert, State Department spokesperson and former Fox News journalist, to replace Nikki Haley, and former Attorney General William Barr to take the incumbent spot. Should Nuaert secure a Senate confirmation, she’ll be dealing with maintaining international pressure on North Korea, among other diplomatic challenges. Meanwhile, it’s unclear whether the position will remain Cabinet-level or subordinated to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Haley announced her resignation in October, while ex attorney general Jeff Sessions resigned after November midterms.

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    Huawei Bust Roils Markets, Dims Trade Hopes

    As CFO Meng Wanzhou, 46, heads to her Canadian bail hearing today, many wonder whether her arrest last weekend will derail talks for a long-term trade deal between Beijing, which is demanding her release, and Washington. As markets dipped on the news, National Security Adviser John Bolton hinted that Huawei was among the Chinese firms pilfering U.S. technology. He also revealed that he knew of the imminent arrest when President Trump — who reportedly wasn’t informed — and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, negotiated a tariff war truce Saturday at the G-20 Summit.

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    Fresh Revelations Expected in Mueller Probe

    Facing court deadlines, special counsel Robert Mueller is to unveil new details today about his cases against President Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, and ex-campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Mueller’s memos are expected to reveal the extent of Cohen’s cooperation with the Russia investigation as well as how prosecutors believe Manafort misled them and violated his plea deal, which they cancelled last month. Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers have reportedly resumed discussions with Mueller’s team after the president submitted written responses Nov. 20 addressing his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

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    Oscars Host Kevin Hart Quits Over Anti-Gay Tweets

    Close the curtains. Following an outcry over the re-emergence of old homophobic tweets, the comedian announced late last night that he would step down from hosting the 2019 Academy Awards. Before eventually apologizing to the LGBT community for his remarks, the Night School actor insisted that he had “moved on” from the past and had already addressed those comments. Tapped earlier this week to host the event, Hart said he was quitting because he didn’t want to be a “distraction.”

  6. Dark Tower, OPEC and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: French authorities will close the Eiffel Tower tomorrow amid security concerns related to potential anti-government protests. Germany’s Christian Democratic Union is expected to pick a new leader today to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel. And OPEC is considering granting Iran an exemption from its planned production cut.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.

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    Energy Companies Winning Battle With the Sage Grouse

    The U.S. Bureau of Land Management released plans yesterday to open millions of acres of Western land to oil, gas and mining previously protected as habitat for the chicken-size bird under an Obama-era regulation. The move, expected to be challenged by conservation groups, would reduce land designated as critical habitat for the bird by around 13,000 square miles while allowing waivers for development on sage grouse breeding grounds. Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt defended the move, saying the administration is still “leaning forward on the conservation of sage grouse.”

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    New Report Busts Common Migrant Myths

    Impressions that migrants spread disease, burden healthcare systems and have more babies have been largely debunked by a report that reviewed 300 studies over 25 years on anthropology, law, health, economics and more. The findings, presented by University College London and medical journal The Lancet, also said immigration improved a country’s economy over the long term, despite what populist politicians say. The number of migrants in the world is at a record high, at 3.4 percent of global population — up from 2.9 percent in 1990 — but that includes those moving within borders.

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    This Is How Geckos Walk on Water

    They’re running away with it. We now know that the curious reptiles navigate an aqua surface by whirling their front feet in a circular motion — like speedy cartoon characters — and hit the water hard to create pockets of air, keeping them afloat. A team of researchers at New York’s Rockefeller University made the discovery after taking high-speed video of eight geckos skimming across a 14-inch-long water-filled basin 63 times. Exploiting surface tension while having water-repellent skin also helps keep them from sinking.

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    Buzzcocks Frontman Dies at 63

    Pete Shelley died Thursday from a suspected heart attack at his home in Estonia. The British punk outfit, best known for their 1978 hit Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve), paid tribute to their bandmate on Twitter, calling him “one of the UK’s most influential and prolific songwriters.” Meanwhile, Shelley’s brother said informing fans of the frontman’s death was “the hardest thing I have ever had to do.” The Buzzcocks inspired generations of rockers, with ex-Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock calling Shelley “one of the very few originals of punk.”

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    Venezuela Crash Kills Two MLB Veterans

    Former Major League Baseball players Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo were killed yesterday in a car crash in Venezuela, according to local news reports. The two infielders were being driven by onetime Arizona Diamondbacks player Carlos Rivero when their car hit a rock and went off the road. Rivero survived. Valbuena, who played 11 seasons for five teams before leaving the Los Angeles Angels last season, and Castillo, who left the MLB in 2008 after playing most of his five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, were in the country to play winter ball.