Top News Stories for Today – Sept 21, 2017
Manafort’s Russia connection
While he was still serving as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort sent an email to an employee of his consulting business in Kiev requesting he tell a Russian billionaire with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin that if he wanted “private briefings” on the presidential race, Manafort would set it up, several people familiar with the emails told The Washington Post.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has the emails. No exact name is ever used, but investigators believe the emails refer to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate and one of the richest men in Russia. The emails could suggest that Manfort was trying to use his access to Trump for his own benefit. The Washington Post, The Week
GOP healthcare bill
The Senate plans to vote on the latest iteration of the Republican health-care bill next week, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday. The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), would convert ObamaCare subsidies and Medicaid payments into block grants to states, allowing each state ample leeway to decide coverage rules and patient protections, plus cut Medicaid sharply.
Republicans have a Sept. 30 deadline for passing a health-care bill with only 50 votes. Three GOP defections would kill the bill. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are believed to be opposed to the bill; Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) remain undeclared swing votes. Politico, The Week
Puerto Rico is completely without power after Hurricane Maria made landfall early Wednesday as a dangerous Category 4 storm, the first to strike the island since 1932. Early Thursday, Maria was a Category 3 hurricane nearing the Dominican Republic.
In Puerto Rico, the hurricane ripped trees from the ground and caused widespread flooding, and more than 10,000 people are in shelters. Puerto Rican officials said it could take six months for full power to be restored. After the Dominican Republic, Maria is forecast to move on to Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas by Thursday night. CNN, ABC News
Trump offers helps to Mexico earthquake
President Trump on Wednesday offered his condolences to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in the wake of the devastating 7.1-magnitutde earthquake that struck central Mexico on Tuesday afternoon. Trump volunteered assistance and to send search-and-rescue teams, which a statement confirmed are “being deployed now.”
The earthquake toppled dozens of buildings and killed more than 230 people, half of them in Mexico City. Rescuers sifted through the rubble of a collapsed primary and secondary school, where they’ve already discovered the bodies of 21 schoolchildren. The disaster hit less than two weeks after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake rocked southern Mexico, killing 90. ABC News
Robert Mueller investigation
Special counsel Robert Mueller has requested documents and information covering a range of events from President Donald Trump’s White House, including two firings and an Oval Office meeting, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN. Mueller’s investigators are looking for documents and emails relating to the dismissals of national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI director James Comey, according to the sources.
In addition, one source confirms that Mueller’s team wants information connected to the Oval Office meeting Trump had with Russian officials in which he bragged about firing Comey, saying it eased pressure on his White House. The requests show that parts of Mueller’s investigation are focusing on the President’s own actions. CNN
Credit report company Equifax experienced a huge data breach in late July. The hack revealed the personal information of as many as 143 million Americans — nearly half the country. And we’re talking really personal stuff, like Social Security numbers.
Now, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen has warned millions of Americans to scrupulously monitor their credit reports in case cyberthieves have used the data for nefarious gains. As if it weren’t complicated enough, the credit agency’s Twitter account tweeted links to a fake site pretending to be Equifax, further bungling the company’s hack response. CNN
Thousands protest Duterte
Thousands of protesters marked the anniversary of the 1972 martial law declaration by late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos with an outcry against what they say is the current president’s authoritarian tendencies and his brutal crackdown on illegal drugs.
Hundreds of riot police deployed to secure the marches and rallies, which are expected to be among the largest against President Rodrigo Duterte since he took office last year. Pro-Duterte followers also staged rallies in Manila and police say they would guard against possible confrontations. VOA
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