The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. President Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, exits federal court after entering a guilty plea yesterday. Source: Getty

    Michael Cohen Faces Three Years in Prison

    President Donald Trump’s former lawyer was sentenced in a New York Court Wednesday despite efforts by his defense Guy Petrillo for leniency. Emphasizing Cohen’s cooperation with the office of Special Counsel’s investigation he compared to Watergate, Petrillo said the stakes were high for Trump’s past fixer but Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Roos said his financial crimes carried a “tremendous societal cost.” Cohen pleaded guilty in August to two campaign finance violations, five counts of tax fraud and one of making false statements to a bank. Last month he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.

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    Theresa May Survives No-Confidence Vote

    With 200 out of 317 Conservative MPs supporting her in a motion called by her fellow party members Wednesday, the British Prime Minister will stay on as their leader. The size of the vote against her indicates to some however that she still has an uphill battle getting the Brexit deal through parliament. May had promised her party earlier in the day that she would step aside after Brexit negotiations had concluded and thus won’t be leading them through the 2012 general election.

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    Trump, Top Democrats Engage in Public Showdown

    “This has spiraled downward.” So said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi after what was supposed to be a private meeting between her, Sen. Chuck Schumer and President Donald Trump descended into bitter, televised acrimony. In the remarkable public exchange, Trump threatened to shut down the federal government by Dec. 21 if Democrats refuse to fund his border wall. Despite a claim by Pelosi that they departed “in a pretty good place,” the heated, barb-strewn meeting appeared to foreshadow the challenges Trump could face from a soon-to-be Democratic House.

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    Theresa May Faces No-Confidence Vote

    The British prime minister’s political career — and the fate of her country’s withdrawal from the European Union — are on the line after Conservative lawmakers triggered a vote of confidence in her leadership. Today’s vote would force May to step down if she loses, though she’s promised to fight it “with everything I’ve got.” Even if she survives, the gesture from her own ruling party reveals the degree of discontent over her perceived failure to secure a favorable divorce deal with the EU. The U.K. is due to withdraw from the bloc in March.

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    Three Killed in French Christmas Market Shooting

    Hundreds of police officers are hunting for a gunman who killed three people and injured a dozen more at a popular Christmas market in central Strasbourg last night. “People were running everywhere,” said one eyewitness. The unnamed 29-year-old suspect, who engaged with police twice, reportedly has a significant criminal history, and authorities said he was known to French security services as a potential extremist threat. Of the wounded, six are in serious condition. A senior official said five people had been detained in connection to the shooting.

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    China, Trump Move to Ease Trade Tensions

    In his telephone call with U.S. officials this week, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He reportedly said his country’s willing to reduce tariffs on American-made cars to 15 percent and buy more agriculture goods like soybeans. Meanwhile, President Trump said he’d intervene in the U.S. government’s case against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou — who was released on bail by a Canadian court yesterday — if it meant securing a trade deal with China. Further complicating the matter, some experts suggest, are the divided opinions within the Trump administration over China.

  7. Michael Cohen, Google and Legal Fees

    Know This: Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney, is due to be sentenced today. Google CEO Sundar Pichai was grilled on Capitol Hill Tuesday about his company’s political bias and privacy policy, among other issues. And The Shining and Jurassic Park are among the movies to be inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry today.

    Remember This Number: $293,052.33. That’s how much a federal judge ordered adult film star Stormy Daniels to pay in legal fees from a defamation suit against President Trump that was dismissed in October.

    Are you an OZY fan? We’d love to learn more about you. Take our annual five-minute audience survey for the chance to win tickets to OZY Fest 2019 — or a trip to California to meet the OZY Tribe at our next team retreat.


  1. Paypal Balance on Your Phone

    This Android Malware Can Drain Your PayPal Account

    Disguised as an innocent battery-enhancing app, Android Optimization can reportedly steal hundreds of dollars in seconds. The malware, which is available on third-party app stores rather than Google Play, was reported by cybersecurity firm ESET this week. Unlike other banking trojans, Android Optimization leverages a device’s accessibility services, which are designed to assist users with disabilities. Simply granting permission to “Enable Statistics” notifies cyberthieves when you access financial apps — and triggers an automatic withdrawal when PayPal is opened. Experts recommend only installing apps from trusted sources.

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    Scientists Crown Dracula Ant Fastest Animal on Earth

    Analyzing high-speed video, researchers from the University of Illinois found that the tiny insects can snap their jaws open at around 200 miles per hour — 5,000 times faster than the blink of an eye — in the fastest known movement of the animal kingdom. Their powerful spring-loaded mandibles work like a mousetrap to smash their prey against the walls of the narrow tunnels they inhabit. The Dracula ant, named for its practice of drinking its own offspring’s blood, is found in Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia.

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    Could Robots Develop Prejudice on Their Own?

    They’re built in man’s image. New research from experts at Cardiff University and MIT shows that autonomous machines can develop negative and unsubstantiated prejudices, just like humans. Using simulation models, scientists had artificial intelligence agents play a game in which they had to choose whether to donate within their group or to an outsider. When some bots shunned outsiders to bolster their in-group reputation, others soon copied their behavior. The results are not only a caution for future technology, but show humans how easy it is to develop biases.

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    Leading Women Bank Better Than Men at the Box Office

    Researchers studied 350 films released from 2014 to 2017 and found those with top-billed female stars earned more. All films that earned over $1 billion also passed the Bechdel test, a measure of female representation in media. In order to pass the test’s low bar — which only 60 percent of the films did — female characters must have a conversation about something other than a man. Researchers noted that despite an industry assumption that female-led films don’t do well, leading women are actually a “marketing asset.”

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    Oakland Files Federal Lawsuit Claiming NFL Pirated the Raiders

    The city sued every team in the league Tuesday, asking for hundreds of millions of dollars for their “unlawful decision to boycott Oakland” and move the Raiders franchise to Las Vegas. The suit argues the NFL acts like an “illegal cartel,” demanding cities build stadiums with taxpayer dollars. Oakland claims to have borrowed and invested over $240 million in the expectation the Raiders would stay in the East Bay. Meanwhile, St. Louis has a similar complaint moving through the courts after losing the Rams to Los Angeles in 2016.