California, Tulsi Gabbard, Betsy DeVos: Your Friday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the wildfires in California, the call for a new election in Britain, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard‘s decision not to seek re-election. It’s also Friday, so there’s a new news quiz.

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Inquiry into Russia investigation is now a criminal one

The Justice Department’s administrative review of the investigation into Russian election interference has become a criminal inquiry, two people familiar with the matter told The Times.

Attorney General William Barr began the administrative review in May, after becoming convinced that the F.B.I. had acted improperly, if not unlawfully, in its investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The opening of the criminal investigation comes as President Trump has made clear that he sees the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be used against his political enemies.

What’s next: The prosecutor in charge of the review, John Durham, could now issue subpoenas, convene a grand jury and file criminal charges.

It’s unclear what potential crime he is investigating, and a Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.


Credit…Josh Edelson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Wildfires prompt evacuations in California

Tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes on Thursday as wind-driven fires raced across Southern California. Here are the latest updates.

In Northern California, hundreds of thousands were without power as utilities shut off electricity as a precaution. Pacific Gas & Electric said that one of its major transmission lines had broken near the source of the Kincade fire, which burned across wine country this week.

The details: Peak fire season is far from over in California, but the state’s fire agency said that only about 163,000 acres had burned so far this year, compared with 1.6 million acres in all of 2018.

Go deeper: Researchers say such fires are likely to continue in a warming world. Since the middle of the 20th century, the four years with the most widespread fires in the U.S. have all been this decade, according to government agencies.

Fighting impeachment by attacking the process

Senate Republicans introduced a resolution on Thursday condemning the House’s impeachment investigation and calling on Democrats to hold a formal vote authorizing the inquiry.

Our Washington reporters note that “the move left the president’s allies in the same awkward place they have been for more than two weeks: unable or unwilling to mount a vigorous defense on the substance of the allegations and focused instead on trying to shake the public’s faith in the House’s impeachment process.”

Related: The government workers on civil-servant salaries who are witnesses in the investigation are worried about how to pay for lawyers to guide them through the process.

Closer look: Before testifying this week, Laura Cooper, a Pentagon official, received a letter that shows how the administration has attempted to persuade officials to keep silent. Read it here.

Another angle: The White House has canceled its subscriptions to The Times and The Washington Post, which Mr.

Trump denounced as “fake,” and encouraged other federal agencies to do the same. (It’s unclear whether the president reads the Morning Briefing.)

If you have 4 minutes, this is worth it

An of-the-moment Halloween

Early Halloween costumes were classics: witches, ghosts, princesses, the occasional Frankenstein. But in the 1970s and ’80s, costumes based on pop culture and current events took off.

We combed our archives for photographs of Halloweens past and once-timely costumes that have since lost their punch. Above, outfits from 1986, the year a revolution in the Philippines exposed its former first lady’s vast shoe collection.

Here’s what else is happening

British leader seeks election: Prime Minister Boris Johnson challenged lawmakers to approve a vote on Dec.

12, hoping to win a mandate for his Brexit plan. The opposition Labour Party reacted coolly to the idea.

More arrests in U.K. truck deaths: A man and a woman were detained after this week’s discovery of 39 bodies near London, the police said today.

No fifth term for Tulsi Gabbard: The representative from Hawaii and Democratic presidential candidate said today that she would not seek re-election to Congress. She has denied speculation that she might run for the White House as a third-party candidate.

Betsy DeVos fined for contempt of court: A judge ruled that the education secretary had violated an order to stop collecting on loans owed by students from a for-profit chain of colleges.

Elijah Cummings’s funeral: Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are scheduled to speak today at the service for the longtime Maryland congressman.

Back pay for miners: A mine operator has agreed to pay some £5.1 million in unpaid wages after going bankrupt last summer.

The dispute led to a monthslong protest in Kentucky in which workers blocked a coal train.

New Facebook feature: The company today unveiled asection of its mobile app dedicated to news, offering content from a range of publishers, including The Times.

From The Times: Debatable, from the Opinion section, provides different perspectives on the most talked-about disagreements. Today’s topic: Facebook’s cryptocurrency project.

Snapshot: Above, boats in the Gulf of Trieste, off Italy, before the Barcolana regatta, one of the world’s largest sailing races. This year there’s been a problem: no wind.

Update complete: The U.S. nuclear arsenal has moved away from a 1970s-era computer system that relied on eight-inch floppy disks.

The overhaul was quietly completed in June.

News quiz: Did you follow the headlines this week? Test yourself.

Modern Love: To celebrate the column’s 15th anniversary this month, we’re republishing essays from years gone by. Today’s is a bracing account of divorce, which swamped our inboxes with responses when it appeared in 2004.

Late-night comedy: “Congressman Tim Ryan announced this afternoon that he is dropping out of the presidential race, an announcement that sent shock waves through the rest of the elevator,” Seth Meyers said.

What we’re reading: This story in The Philadelphia Inquirer about the bathroom line at “Hamilton.” Choire Sicha, our Styles editor, writes: “Tanya Heath is a multi-instrumentalist, soprano and actor whose greatest role — just for now! — is running the 20-minute panic for 200 women to pee during the intermission at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia. Has any story about a bathroom ever made you want to stand up and cheer before?”

Now, a break from the news

Cook: Roasted sausages, sweet grapes and vinegar-spiked onions, all on one baking sheet.

Watch: Few figures in American history have been as shrouded in myth and misperception as Harriet Tubman.

To make “Harriet,” a new biopic, the filmmakers drew on a mosaic of sources.

Go: Mumbai’s Art Deco buildings — the world’s second-largest collection, after Miami — are starting to gain the attention they deserve. They’re also under threat.

Read: A memoir by Susan Rice, the former Obama administration official, is among 10 books we recommend this week.

Smarter Living: How guilty should you feel about flying? Well, there are ways to reduce your journeys’ carbon footprint. Find routes that use more efficient planes, and ask yourself: Could this meeting be digital?

Our Climate Fwd: newsletter has advice on shopping for more environmentally friendly appliances.

And now for the Back Story on …

Movie trailers

This week’s release of a trailer for the new Star Wars movie, “The Rise of Skywalker,” was met with predictable fanfare: a frenzy on social media, guides to its secrets, and deep dives poring over every detail.

Movie trailers have come a long way since their introduction in the 1910s.

Back then, according to a history by, a trailer would generally be shown after a film, as its name suggests, often promoting the next entry in a series.

For decades after, most trailers were produced by the same company — the National Screen Service — giving them a fairly uniform style. But in the 1960s, auteurs like Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick began to produce their own, applying their unique artistic sensibilities.

In the modern era, trailers have become known for the deep-voiced narration made popular by Don LaFontaine. By the time he died in 2008, Mr.

LaFontaine had recorded more than 5,000 trailer voice-overs. He was perhaps best known for the phrase that often started them: “In a world …”

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

— Chris

Thank you
Melina Delkic helped compile today’s briefing.

Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news.

Tom Wright-Piersanti, on the briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story.

You can reach us at

o We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the zeal of Bernie Sanders’s supporters.
o Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Podcaster’s booking (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
o The Times photographer Tyler Hicks and photo staff members from The Times Magazine were honored with Lucie Awards this week.

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