Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 23, 2018

Harold Maass
President Trump.
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Trump praises himself, hits courts and migrants in call to troops

President Trump sounded off against the courts, trade rivals, and migrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border during his Thanksgiving Day call to American troops deployed overseas. Trump, speaking from his opulent Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, said it was "a disgrace" that judges had blocked his attempts to reform immigration policy and block migrants who cross the border outside official entry points from seeking asylum. He also said he hoped the service members would "take solace in knowing that all of the American families you hold so close to your heart are all doing well. The nation's doing well economically, better than anybody in the world." Trump also boasted about his performance as president, saying, "I made a tremendous difference in this country."


House Republicans subpoena Comey and Lynch

House Republicans, who lose majority control in January, have issued last-minute demands for former FBI Director James Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch to appear for closed-door testimony in early December. The subpoenas were issued Wednesday but revealed publicly on Thursday. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) had warned he would summon Comey and Lynch to testify. Comey tweeted that he would gladly testify publicly, but would resist "a 'closed door' thing because I've seen enough of their selective leaking and distortion." Republicans have been investigating the FBI and Justice Department, saying that anti-Trump bias among top officials led them to downplay the investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email use as secretary of state, and focus on possible connections between Trump's campaign and Russia. [Politico, CNN]


Trump repeats court criticism after rare rebuke from Roberts

President Trump doubled down on his criticism of federal courts on Thursday after a rare rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts. The chief justice had pushed back against Trump's complaint that an "Obama judge" on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had blocked his order to bar migrants who cross the border illegally from seeking asylum, saying the courts do not have "Obama judges," "Trump judges, Bush judges, or Clinton judges," but "an extraordinary group of dedicated judges" trying to be fair to all. Roberts said in his statement that this Thanksgiving, an "independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for." Trump tweeted back, saying: "Justice Roberts can say what he wants, but the 9th Circuit is a complete & total disaster." [NBC News, The Associated Press]


Pakistan hit with attacks on market, Chinese consulate on same day

A suicide bomber attacked a market in northern Pakistan on Friday, killing 35 people hours after three gunmen assaulted the Chinese consulate in the southern city of Karachi, killing two policemen and two civilians. The bomber rode a motorcycle into a weekly market in the town of Kalaya, and detonated his explosives in a crowd of people buying vegetables, household items, and winter clothes. The gunmen at the Chinese consulate tried to get into the building, but were stopped by police and security guards at a checkpoint. The gunmen died in a shootout. The attacks appeared to be unrelated, but they underscored the many security challenges Pakistan faces from separatists and Islamist extremists.


Trump says CIA merely has 'feelings' about blame in Khashoggi killing

President Trump on Thursday questioned the C.I.A.'s conclusion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country's day-to-day ruler, ordered the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying the agency only had "feelings" on who was responsible for killing Khashoggi in Turkey's Saudi consulate Oct. 2. Trump also repeated his insistence that it was unwise to let the push for justice in the Khashoggi case threaten America's alliance with Saudi Arabia, which includes billions of investment dollars and leverage over oil prices. "Do people really want me to give up hundreds of thousands of jobs?" Trump said. "And frankly, if we went by this standard, we wouldn't be able to have anybody as an ally." [The New York Times]


Thanksgiving sales rise heading into Black Friday

U.S. shoppers spent $1.75 billion online, up 26 percent from 2017, on Thanksgiving by 5 p.m. They also lined up at department stores, signaling a strong start to the holiday shopping season driven by a strong economy and rising wages. An estimated 116 million people are expected to shop online or in stores on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Many retailers offer deals in the days before Black Friday, but it remains one of the biggest shopping days of the year, both online and in brick-and-mortar shops. Some stores, like Target and Best Buy, are offering free shipping to compete with online retail giants like Amazon, since thousands of shoppers plan to shop online on Black Friday to avoid packed stores.


E.U. diplomats meet to seal Brexit draft agreement

European Union diplomats are meeting Friday to finalize the draft agreement on Britain's exit from the trading bloc. Spain is warning that it will oppose the deal unless it includes a guarantee that Madrid will have a say in the future of Gibraltar. Spain wants the future of the small territory at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula, which was ceded to Britain in 1713 but is still claimed by Spain, to be determined by Madrid and London, but the draft agreement on the future relationship between the U.K. and the E.U. doesn't mention Gibraltar. Spain doesn't have a veto on the withdrawal deal itself, but it can hold up a future U.K.-E.U. free-trade deal, which would require approval of all 27 E.U. members. [The Associated Press]


Hundreds of migrants mass at U.S.-Mexico border crossing

Hundreds of Central American migrants seeking entry into the U.S. continued to gather Friday near a U.S. border crossing in Tijuana, across the U.S.-Mexico border from San Diego, California. Tightened security measures at the crossing held up long lines of Mexicans headed to Thanksgiving gatherings in the U.S. The migrants, many from Honduras, said they were desperate, lacking food, medicine, and a place to stay, and would wait at the crossing until they could apply for asylum. Earlier on Thursday, President Trump said he had authorized troops deployed to the border to use lethal force, and repeated a warning that he could close the border entirely.


Nissan board unanimously votes to oust Ghosn after his arrest

Nissan's board voted unanimously Thursday to oust Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested by Japanese prosecutors Monday on suspicion of using company money to buy personal residences and enrich his sister. An internal investigation by the auto maker found that Ghosn, one of the highest profile leaders in the auto industry, used a Netherlands subsidiary to spend about $18 million to buy and renovate personal homes, including a house in Beirut and a condominium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Ghosn also allegedly used the subsidiary to pay his older sister for consulting, including a $60,000 commission for advising on the Rio property. Nissan found no evidence Ghosn's sister actually did the work. Ghosn remains in custody, and his sister could not be reached for comment. [The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch]


Ralph Breaks the Internet gets off to strong Thanksgiving start

Animated Disney film Ralph Breaks the Internet led the box office with $18.5 million in ticket sales on its opening day Wednesday, putting it on track to potentially set a Thanksgiving opening 5-day record of $95 million. The Disney sequel's opening total included $3.8 million in Tuesday night previews, beating previous Disney hits Moana and Coco. The Rocky spin-off Creed II also got off to a strong start with $3.7 million in previews, on pace to gross $50 million and beat its 2015 predecessor's five-day Thanksgiving weekend gross of $42 million. But not every film is benefiting from the holiday weekend bump, with Lionsgate's Robin Hood projected to bomb with $15 million or less on a $100 million budget. [Deadline, Variety]