Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 10, 2019

Harold Maass
Trump at the U.S. Capitol speaking ot reporters
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Our '10 things you need to
know' newsletter
Your free email newsletter subscription is confirmed. Thank you for subscribing!


Shutdown talks break down as Trump heads to Texas for border visit

President Trump walked out of a White House meeting with congressional Democratic leaders on Wednesday, calling the talks on ending a partial government shutdown "a total waste of time" after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Democrats would not fund Trump's promised wall on the southern border. Trump tweeted that when Pelosi said she would oppose the wall even if Trump backed a deal to reopen the government, "I said bye-bye, nothing else works!" Democrats said Trump had thrown a "temper tantrum." Trump on Thursday will visit the border in Texas, where he faces skepticism about the wall, even from some Republicans. Trump said in a Tuesday address the wall is "absolutely critical;" Democrats say he is manufacturing a crisis and should reopen the government. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]


House Democrats pass bill seeking to open Treasury Department

The Democrat-led House late Wednesday passed a bill seeking to reopen the Treasury Department and keep the Internal Revenue Service and Small Business Administration funded. The bill passed 240 to 188, with eight Republicans joining the Democrats and breaking with President Trump and GOP congressional leadership. The legislation is considered to have no chance in the Republican-controlled Senate; Trump has said he won't sign any deal to end a partial government shutdown that doesn't include the $5.7 billion he has demanded to build a wall on the Mexican border. The Republican defections in the House came on the same day Trump emerged from a meeting with Republicans on Capitol Hill declaring that his party is "totally unified" behind his demand for wall funding. [The Washington Post, Axios]


Trump says he ordered FEMA to cut fire aid to California

President Trump tweeted Wednesday that he had "ordered FEMA to send no more money" to help California deal with devastation from wildfires. Trump said he was cutting off the money because "billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest (sic) fires that, with proper Forrest Management, would never happen." Last year's Camp Fire ravaged an entire Northern California town, and the Woolsey Fire scorched the southern part of the state. Together, the fires destroyed at least 14,000 homes and killed 90 people. State officials disputed Trump's suggestion the state was to blame, saying a warming climate is making wildfires worse and noting that the deadly Camp Fire is believed to have started in or near a federally managed forest. More than half of California's forest land is federally owned. [The Mercury News]


Chinese media: Kim Jong Un affirmed commitment to second summit, denuclearization

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un committed during his visit to China this week to pursuing a second summit with President Trump "to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community," China's Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday. "[North Korea] will continue sticking to the stance of denuclearization and resolving the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation," Xinhua quoted Kim as saying after his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump said last weekend that the two sides were negotiating where to hold a second summit, and that there would be an announcement about the plans "in the not-too-distant future." Kim's just-completed trip to Beijing this week was widely interpreted as a sign the summit plans are nearly finished. [USA Today]


Rod Rosenstein expected to depart Justice Department soon

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller and oversaw his Russia election-meddling investigation for more than a year, has told President Trump he's stepping down in the coming weeks, according ABC News and other news organizations. NBC reported that Rosenstein plans to step down after Mueller finishes his work, which legal sources expected to happen by late February. Rosenstein and Trump have had an at-times contentious relationship, and acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has taken oversight of the Mueller investigation despite publicly questioning it earlier. Trump has nominated fellow Mueller skeptic William Barr as attorney general, and Rosenstein has reportedly told White House officials he is leaving after Barr is confirmed by the Senate and takes office. [ABC News, NBC News]


Democrats pass resolution affirming right to defend ObamaCare in court

The Democrat-controlled House on Wednesday passed a resolution affirming the chamber's authority to defend the Affordable Care Act in federal court. After Democrats took control of the House in the new Congress, lawmakers last week approved a rules package letting the House intervene in a lawsuit threatening to unravel the landmark health-care law, directing the House's Office of General Counsel to defend the law against any litigation. House Republicans voted in 2017 to repeal the law. A federal judge in Texas last month ruled that the law, typically referred to as ObamaCare, is unconstitutional because Congress eliminated the individual mandate penalty, although the law remains in effect pending an appeal of the ruling. [CNN]


Congo provisionally declares opposition candidate winner of election after delay

Election officials in the Democratic Republican of Congo "provisionally" declared opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi winner of a long-delayed presidential election Thursday, setting up the first democratic transfer of power since Congo's independence in 1960. According to the national election commission, Tshisekedi narrowly beat another opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, with Emmanuel Shadary, the hand-picked successor of outgoing President Joseph Kabila, a distant third. Polls before the Dec. 30 election showed Fayulu with a commanding lead, and outside observers and institutions — notably the Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 election observers — considered him the true victor. Just before the electoral commission named him the runner-up, Fayulu claimed it's an "open secret" that Tshisekedi had entered a power-sharing agreement with Shadary and the Kabila government. [BBC News, The New York Times]


U.S.-supported militia reports capture of U.S. teen fighting for ISIS

A U.S.-backed force battling the Islamic State in Syria said Wednesday a 16-year-old American boy had been captured fighting for the Islamist extremist group. If the teen's status is confirmed, he will be the first American minor caught fighting for ISIS. The arrest followed the announcement on Sunday that another American, former Texas substitute teacher Warren Christopher Clark, had been seized in the same area. The two are among as few as five American citizens captured so far during the war against ISIS. The militia that captured the boy, the Syrian Democratic Forces, said it had captured a total of eight foreign fighters this week in ISIS's last stronghold in northern Syria, including citizens of Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. [The New York Times]


Government shutdown forces IPO delays

The government shutdown has forced companies to postpone initial public offerings of stock they had hoped to hold in January, due to the partial closure of the Securities and Exchange Commission, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing sources that included bankers and lawyers. The firms that have held off on listing shares include biotechnology firms Gossamer Bio, Alector, and Blackstone Group LP's Alight Solutions. It now appears that no major company will hold an IPO this month. Since 1995, Dealogic data indicate that there have been IPOs in every January but three, in 2003, 2009, and 2016. Those years have been among the weakest on record for IPOs. This year is supposed to be a strong one. [The Wall Street Journal]


Amazon's Jeff Bezos and wife are getting divorced

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, are divorcing after 25 years of marriage following a trial separation, vowing to remain "cherished friends," according to a statement posted Wednesday on Jeff Bezos' Twitter account. "If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again," they said. The Bezoses, who have four children, met in New York while they worked at hedge fund D.E. Shaw, and married after dating for six months. Jeff Bezos then quit and started the online bookstore that would become an online retail giant, with Mackenzie Bezos contributing during Amazon's early days operating from a Seattle garage. Jeff Bezos is now the world's wealthiest person, with a fortune estimated at $137 billion. [The Associated Press]