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Inside Daily Brief (Nov 30th, 2017)

Senator John McCain says he will vote in favor of the Senate Republican tax-reform bill, boosting its chances of passing. Republican leadership wants to vote on the plan late Thursday or Friday. In a statement, McCain said the bill, "though far from perfect," would help the economy, increase U.S. competitiveness and offer "long overdue tax relief" for the middle class. The Arizona senator said it would "directly benefit all Americans, allowing them to keep a higher percentage of what they earn." Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who, along with McCain, opposed GOP efforts to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, said on Wednesday that she will support the legislation, which includes a provision to open up drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Republicans control 52 Senate seats and need at least 50 votes to pass the bill. The plan would decrease the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent and lower the tax burden on individuals and small businesses, while raising the federal debt by $1.4 trillion. - THEHILL

The White House has a plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, possibly in the next few weeks. Citing unnamed administration officials, multiple news outlets reported the possible shake-up on Thursday. It was not clear if President Trump - whose relationship with Tillerson has been strained - has approved the plan yet. Under the proposal, Republican Senator Tom Cotton, from Arkansas, would replace Pompeo, a former GOP congressman from Kansas, who reportedly has a positive relationship with Trump. The news made for an awkward meeting on Thursday in the Oval Office. A reporter asked if Trump wanted Tillerson - who was at the meeting - to remain in the position. Trump did not answer the question, saying only "He's here. Rex is here." - NYT

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An Army veteran has accused Senator Al Franken of groping her during a USO tour 14 years ago. Stephanie Kemplin is the fifth woman to accuse Franken, from Minnesota, of inappropriate touching. Kemplin told CNN that Franken groped her right breast while posing for a photo with Franken in December 2003, six years before he became a senator. At the time, Kemplin, 41, was deployed in Kuwait while serving in the Iraq War. “He kept his hand all the way over on my breast," she said. "I’ve never had a man put their arm around me and then cup my breast. So he was holding my breast on the side.” Kemplin said her first reaction was embarrassment. A Franken spokesperson said the senator "takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct." - WAPO

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High ranking House Democrats have asked for Representative John Conyers to step down, after multiple female staffers accused him of sexual harassment. “Zero tolerance means consequences for everyone,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday. She was joined by Democrat Representative James Clyburn (S.C.) and Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.) in asking the longest-serving congressman to step down. Pelosi referenced the latest allegation, in which a woman accused Conyers of propositioning her for sex and violating her body. Marion Brown told NBC's "Today" show that Conyers invited her to a hotel room and asked her to touch his genitals. “The allegations against Mr. Conyers, as we have learned more since Sunday, are serious, disappointing and very credible,” Pelosi said. House Speaker Paul Ryan also told reporters that Conyers should resign. Conyers, 88, has been hospitalized for stress-related issues.- NYT

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The U.S.-led military coalition says its airstrikes and artillery have killed at least 801 civilians in Syria and Iraq since 2014. The updated figures are from a monthly civilian casualty report, which came out on Thursday. The Operation Inherent Resolve coalition has announced recent successes in the fight against ISIS, including the liberation of Mosul and Raqqa. The U.S. airstrike in Mosul killed a reported 105 civilians in March. "We take all reports of civilian casualties seriously and assess all reports as thoroughly as possible," the coalition said on Thursday. The coalition's figures are lower than those of the monitoring group Airwars, which claims at least 5,961 civilians have been killed in air strikes. - NPR

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Jim Nabors, who starred as Gomer Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show," has died at age 87. Nabors died at his home in Hawaii on Thursday morning, likely from natural causes, his longtime partner said. Nabors' health began to deteriorate rapidly after Thanksgiving, said Stan Cadwallader, who met Nabors in 1975. Nabors, an Alabama native, is best known for playing the affable mechanic - whose signature Southern phrase was "Gawwwleee!" - in 23 installments of Griffith's show during the 1960s. He also played the character as a Marine in the CBS comedy "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." for five seasons. Nabors - who recorded albums and sang during the opening of the Indianapolis 500 -  received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991. - USAT

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Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has agreed to an  $11.6 million bail agreement with prosecutors. The deal, in which Manafort would forfeit four properties if there is a bail violation, would release him from home detention. The properties include a Florida home, a condo in Manhattan, property in Bridgehampton, N.Y., and a Virginia condo where he has been under house arrest. The deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team will require approval from a federal judge. Manafort was arraigned on money laundering and other charges in October. - POLITICO

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Texas Congressman Joe Barton says he won't seek re-election after a nude photo of him surfaced online. Barton, one of the longest-serving House Republicans, is accused of having extramarital relationships with women before divorcing his wife in 2015. Barton apologized last week for the nude photo, which appeared on an anonymous Twitter account. In an interview with the Washington Post, one woman said Barton messaged her on Facebook, which eventually led to a five-year consensual relationship involving sexually explicit photos, texts, videos and two in-person meetings. Barton, in a statement, said he is proud of his record and accomplishments. “It has been a tremendous honor to represent the 6th District of Texas for over three decades, but now it is time to step aside and let there be a new voice," he said. - NBC

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CVS Health is nearing a deal to purchase health insurer Aetna. The deal, worth more than $66 billion in cash and stock, could happen as early as Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported. Forecasts said it would value Aetna at between $200 and $205 a share. The Journal cautioned that there is always a chance the negotiations could stall or fall through. Through the acquisition, CVS could gain "more scale to bargain better prices" for its prescription drugs, CNBC reported. It could also strengthen Aetna's business by allowing it to offer more affordable co-payments, potentially at CVS stores. - CNBC

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Bette Midler tweeted a video of a 1991 interview in which she accused Geraldo Rivera of groping her in the 1970s. "Geraldo may have apologized for his tweets supporting Matt Lauer, but he has yet to apologize for this," Midler said in the tweet. In the 1991 interview with Barbara Walters, Midler alleged that Rivera and a producer came to do an interview with her. She claimed they pushed her into a bathroom, put the recreational drug alkyl nitrite under her nose, and groped her. "You have no way of knowing at the time that these things are going to come back to haunt you," she said. Rivera, a Fox News reporter, apologized on Wednesday for his comments defending Lauer, the former "Today" show host. Lauer is accused of sexually harassing women in the workplace. - USAT

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CORRECTION: This morning we incorrectly referred to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt as Theodore Roosevelt. We regret the error, thank you to the readers who pointed it out!

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