Morning Update: So It's Been A Hella Eventful Weekend In DC 👀
Trump takes aim at Mueller, UK-Russia tensions, Facebook under fire
Trump lashed out at Mueller and former FBI officials, and many Republicans are not happy
It’s been one those weekends. So much news. Let’s go through it chronologically, shall we?
First: Late Friday night, Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI, two days before his retirement. Trump called it a “great day for democracy.”
Then: President Trump’s lawyer John Dowd said he wants special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation shut down in the wake of McCabe’s firing. At first he said he was speaking on behalf of the president. Another source said he was speaking for himself.
But then: Breaking with a strategy of not mentioning the special counsel’s name, Trump criticized the makeup of Mueller’s investigation team for having “Zero Republicans.” Mueller, by the way, is a Republican — he served as FBI director for 12 years, and was appointed to that role by George W. Bush.
And so: Trump’s tweets set off strong reactions from Republicans. Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN if Trump tried to fire Mueller, it “would be the beginning of the end of his presidency.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy directed his comments at Trump’s lawyer: “If you have an innocent client, Mr. Dowd, act like it.” Sen. Marco Rubio spoke about McCabe’s firing on Meet the Press: “I don’t like the way it went down.”
And now: Well, after concern with Trump’s tweets, White House lawyer Ty Cobb said in a statement that “the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”
Whew. We made it.
The UK says Russia may have been “creating and stockpiling” a deadly nerve agent for a decade
The British government now says it has evidence Russia has been building up its supply of Novichok, the nerve agent used in the poisoning of a former Russian spy on UK soil.
Britain’s Foreign Office added that if the evidence was correct, it would be “a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention”.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the UK has given Russia every opportunity to come up with “an alternative hypothesis,” but Russia’s response has been “a sort of mixture of smug sarcasm and denial, obfuscation, and delay.”
Turkey has claimed victory over the US-allied militia in Syria
What just happened: After about two months of fighting with US-allied Kurds, Syrian rebels backed by Turkey have claimed victory and entered the northwestern city of Afrin.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “Most of the terrorists have already fled with tails between their legs.”
Quick history: Turkey and its favored Syrian rebels have been clashing with the Syrian-Kurdish People's Protection Units, also known as the YPG.
Why? Turkey believes the YPG is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which it has called a terrorist group (and so has the US).
At the same time, the YPG makes up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a group the US backed heavily in the fight against ISIS.
So what comes next? Turkey says the mission inside Syria is a way to protect its border from terrorists. The Turkish PM said that, after capturing Afrin, the forces will then push all the way to the Iraqi border, clearing the enclave of YPG fighters.
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Austin bombings: Police have made the unusual step of asking whoever is responsible for sending package bombs to come forward. Hours after the plea, another package bomb exploded, this time left by the side of the road, injuring two men and sending a residential neighborhood into lockdown. It was the fourth explosion this month.
Cirque du Soleil: A circus performer died after falling suddenly during a show Saturday night. Yann Arnaud lost his grip during an aerial performance in Tampa, Florida.
Far-right activist banned: Britain banned another far-right activist from entering the country ahead of a gathering in Hyde Park, London. Lutz Bachmann, the founder of the anti-Islam group Pegida, was deported from Stansted Airport.
Club crash: A man was kicked out of a UK club, then came back and drove his car into the building. Police later confirmed 13 people were treated for injuries, including broken bones. A 21-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and remains in custody.
Facebook is suspending Cambridge Analytica, the data company that worked for Trump’s campaign
The social network announced the suspension of Cambridge Analytica, saying it received reports that the company had not deleted data it received from an app developer, despite saying it had done so.
The next day, the New York Times and the Guardian published joint reports alleging Facebook's statement actually came only after their reporters asked about Cambridge Analytica possessing data from as many as 50 million users.
The data was given to Cambridge Analytica by a professor at Cambridge University who legitimately gained access to Facebook users' personal data, but then broke the rules by passing it along to a third party.
Police sent a bomb squad to defuse what turned out to be a ghost-hunting device
Paranormal investigators in Windsor, Ontario, say they're sorry for getting the bomb squad involved after leaving a ghost-hunting device lying around.
Police were called to Mackenzie Hall, a historic building, after people came across a suspicious black box with a blue light and a red wire sticking out.
As it turns out, it was an electromagnetic field sensor, commonly used by ghost hunters.
Alright then, Canada.