George Bush, Stocks, CBS: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning,

We start today by looking ahead to George Bush’s funeral, a sentencing recommendation for a former Trump aide, and new details about a sexual misconduct investigation at CBS. We also invite you to share your thoughts about our new design.

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George Bush’s service dog, Sully, visited the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday. A funeral service for the former president will be held in Washington today.CreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times

Leaders gather for George Bush’s funeral today

The service for the nation’s 41st president begins at 11 a.m. Eastern at Washington National Cathedral. President Trump and the four living former presidents are scheduled to attend. The Times will have live coverage.

National reaction: The funeral offers an opportunity for a divided country to pause and reflect, our chief Washington correspondent writes.

Voices: Mr. Bush has been lying in state at the Capitol Rotunda, and we spoke to some of those who went to pay their respects. “All decisions he made may not have been favored by all Americans,” one said, “but it was in the best interest of the country.”

Closer look: Mr. Bush and his son George W. Bush, who will deliver the main eulogy today, shared an unbreakable bond despite a lifetime of tensions.

The details: Mr. Trump has designated today a national day of mourning. The stock markets will be closed, and the Postal Service won’t make regular deliveries.


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The S&P 500 lost more than 3 percent on Tuesday. U.S. markets are closed today.CreditJustin Lane/EPA, via Shutterstock

President’s tweets rattle the markets

Stocks in Asia and Europe are down today, following sharp declines on Wall Street on Tuesday after President Trump made comments threatening China with further tariffs.

Referring to himself as “a Tariff Man,” Mr. Trump cast doubt on a truce in the trade war that he reached with President Xi Jinping just days ago. The White House has sent mixed messages about what was agreed to, and Beijing hasn’t confirmed details.

Another angle: Mr. Trump reassured German auto executives on Tuesday that he had no immediate plans to impose tariffs on their cars.


Prosecutors recommend a light sentence for Michael Flynn

President Trump’s former national security adviser helped substantially with the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference and should receive little to no prison time, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Catch up: Mr. Flynn was the first person from Mr. Trump’s inner circle to strike a deal with Robert Mueller, the special counsel. He pleaded guilty a year ago to lying to the F.B.I. about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Documents: Read the prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation and a heavily redacted addendum.


Saudi prince is “complicit” in killing, senators say

A bipartisan group of senators said on Tuesday that a classified briefing by the C.I.A. director had solidified their belief that Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, had ordered the killing of the dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

The White House has expressed support for the Saudi leadership, including Prince Mohammed, despite strong evidence that it was behind Mr. Khashoggi’s death in October. Mr. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident and a columnist for The Washington Post.

Watch: Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, called Prince Mohammed “a wrecking ball” after the briefing. “I think he’s complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi to the highest level possible.”

What’s next: Lawmakers are divided over how to respond, and whether to impose sanctions. The White House said all members of the House would be briefed next week.

Former CBS chief is said to have lied about misconduct claims

Facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, Leslie Moonves destroyed evidence and misled investigators in an attempt to save his severance deal, according to a draft of a report prepared for the company’s board.

The report, by lawyers hired by the network, says CBS would be justified in denying $120 million in severance to Mr. Moonves, who was forced to step down as chief executive in September.

How we know: The Times reviewed a copy of the report. Among the revelations is that the lawyers were told by multiple people that CBS had an employee “who was ‘on call’ to perform oral sex” on Mr. Moonves.

Analysis: The report, which shows that senior executives and board members did nothing about the allegations, shows the failure of corporate governance, our business columnist writes.

If you have 8 minutes, this is worth it

Steve Bannon’s Chinese bedfellow

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CreditGuo Media

Guo Wengui, a billionaire also known as Miles Kwok, is a fierce critic of Beijing. Mr. Bannon — a former Trump strategist obsessed with the emerging threat from China — has found common ground with him.

The two are hoping to stoke U.S.-China tensions by effectively calling for the overthrow of Beijing’s leadership. This is the story of their resources and strategy.

Here’s what else is happening

France backs off: The government has suspended a planned increase in the gas tax that had set off three weeks of violent revolt by the so-called Yellow Vest movement.

Protests at Wisconsin Capitol: Demonstrators drowned out caroling schoolchildren on Tuesday as Republicans who control the Legislature pushed to limit the powers of the new governor and attorney general — both Democrats — before they take office.

Republican group is hacked: The campaign committee for House Republicans disclosed that the email accounts of several of its senior officials had been hacked in April by a “foreign entity.”

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CreditKendrick Brinson for The New York Times

Snapshot: Above left, “Victorious Youth,” a 2,000-year-old bronze sculpture, is on display at the Getty Villa, part of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Italy’s highest court has ordered that the prized statue, which was retrieved from the Adriatic Sea in 1964, be returned to the country.

Late-night comedy: James Corden was not excited by how filthy cellphones are: “According to a recent study, the average cellphone is nearly seven times dirtier than — brace yourselves — a toilet. Yeah, it’s true. Although there’s an easy solution: Just rinse off your phone in the toilet.”

What we’re reading: This article in Forward looks into the true identity of Rick (“Here’s looking at you, kid”), from “Casablanca.” Dan Saltzstein, our special projects editorial director, dares you not to get sucked in: “It turns out the man behind the character was a Jewish songwriter and impresario from New York named Billy Rose.”

Now, a break from the news

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CreditJulia Gartland for The New York Times

Cook: Oven-steamed salmon with cracked green olive relish.

Watch: The Danish thriller “The Charmer” is one of our critic’s picks. The film follows an Iranian immigrant looking for a woman to marry so that he can stay in Denmark.

Listen to: The experimental guitarist Mary Halvorson’s tribute to the Beatles, “With a Little Help From My Friends.” She uses a couple of overdubbed guitars, some effects and the sparse drumming of Tomas Fujiwara.

See: The Times’s chief theater critics, Ben Brantley and Jesse Green, talked about the best plays and musicals of the year.


Smarter Living: The biggest roadblock to your productivity is a smartphone on your desk. A 2017 study found its mere presence — even powered off — “reduces available cognitive capacity.” So put it out of sight when you need to work.

For your leisure time, here’s our compendium of the best wine books of 2018.

And now for the Back Story on …

The end of Prohibition

Eighty-five years ago today, America once again stepped up to the bar.

On Dec. 5, 1933, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment, enough to end national Prohibition.

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Pierre du Pont helped lead an effort to end Prohibition in the U.S.CreditHerbert Gehr/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Bars across the U.S. are celebrating Repeal Day. They might also consider honoring its unlikely hero: Pierre du Pont.

One of the wealthiest men in the world, du Pont was also among the most prominent “wets” — as opponents of Prohibition were called. He helped lead a powerful lobbying group with a not-so-hidden agenda: Bring back booze, and make income taxes unnecessary by renewing levies on legal alcohol.

He succeeded, to a point. The end of Prohibition injected millions of dollars into the federal Treasury. But income and corporate taxes went up, too.

Du Pont’s folly was America’s gain — and a reminder that in politics, things rarely turn out the way you want, no matter how much money you have.


That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris


Thank you
To Eleanor Stanford for the cultural highlights and Kenneth R. Rosen and James K. Williamson for their Smarter Living tips. Clay Risen, a deputy Op-Ed editor and authority on spirits, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
👂 We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is on China’s relationship with the West.
 Here’s today’s mini crossword puzzle, and a clue: Cupcake coating (5 letters).
 📷 For the fourth time this year, T — The Times’s style magazine — had a split run, which features more than one cover image. This time, it involved four different photos honoring black male voices in American letters.

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