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10 things you need to know today: April 11, 2018

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Harold Maass
Zuckerberg says Facebook didn't do enough to protect privacy.
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1.

Raid on Trump lawyer reportedly targeted alleged hush payments

The FBI agents who raided the home and offices of Michael Cohen, President Trump's longtime personal attorney, were looking for records of payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels, both of whom say they had sex with Trump more than a decade ago, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The alleged affairs occurred early in Trump's marriage to first lady Melania Trump. Trump angrily criticized the raid. "Attorney-client privilege is dead!" he tweeted. Cohen acknowledged to CNN that he was worried about what would happen next. Former Manhattan federal prosecutor Preet Bharara told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday that, based on what has happened in past cases where judges agreed to issue search warrants against attorneys, "the likelihood that Michael Cohen is going to be charged is high." [The New York Times, CNN]

2.

Zuckerberg tells senators Facebook 'didn't do enough' to protect privacy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg repeated his apologies for the social network's mishandling of user data on Monday in testimony to the Senate's Commerce and Judiciary committees. Zuckerberg, wearing a dark suit rather than his customary T-shirt and jeans, said the realization that a Russian agency had pushed fake news, and that data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly accessed information from 87 million Facebook users, had sparked the company to review how it protects users' privacy. "We didn't do enough to make sure these tools aren't being used for harm," Zuckerberg said. The company's stock, which has been battered by the scandal, rose by 4.5 percent on Tuesday. Zuckerberg testifies again Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. [Reuters, The Washington Post]

3.

Trump warns Russia, Syria that missiles 'will be coming' in tweet

President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning what appeared to be his first confirmation of intended military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and its allies after a devastating chemical attack over the weekend. Trump specifically singled out Moscow, tweeting: "Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!' You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!" Russian officials have warned that missiles aimed at Syrian regime targets "would be shot down and their launch sites targeted," the BBC reports. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that its partners have reported 500 people affected by Saturday's chemical weapons attack. [BBC, Donald J. Trump]

4.

Reports: Trump pushed twice to fire Mueller; now mulling firing Rosenstein

President Trump, angered by reports of subpoenas for information on his business dealings with Deutsche Bank, told aides in early December that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation had to be shut down, The New York Times reported Tuesday, citing eight White House officials and people close to Trump. Trump backed down after his aides and lawyers were told by Mueller's office the reports were not accurate. This was the second time Trump discussed firing Mueller, following an incident in June. CNN reported Tuesday that Trump now is discussing firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller and reportedly approved Monday's raids on the home, office, and hotel room of Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime personal lawyer. [The New York Times, CNN]

5.

Trump cancels summit trip to oversee Syria response

President Trump on Tuesday canceled his trip to Peru for the upcoming Summit of the Americas and to Colombia so he can "oversee the American response to Syria and monitor developments around the world," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday. Vice President Mike Pence will attend the summit in Trump's place. The White House had already trimmed the length of Trump's visit after Peru's president resigned facing corruption allegations. Trump has promised that a suspected Syrian chemical-weapon attack would be "met forcefully," blaming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin, his ally. Russia on Tuesday vetoed a U.S.-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution that would have demanded access for investigators to the rebel-held area where the attack occurred. [The Hill, NPR]

6.

European agency warns airlines of possible Syria airstrikes

A European air traffic control agency on Tuesday warned airlines to use caution in the eastern Mediterranean over the next 72 hours due to the possibility of airstrikes against Syria. The alert on the Belgium-based Eurocontrol website came as the Trump administration was reportedly trying to rally support from allies for a strike to punish the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical weapon attack against civilians in a rebel-held area outside Damascus. Russia, a key Assad ally, warned against any attempt to target Syria. "If there is a strike by the Americans, then ... the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired," Alexander Zasypkin, Russia's ambassador to Lebanon, told Hezbollah's al-Manar TV Tuesday evening, according to Reuters. [MarketWatch, NPR]

7.

Homeland security adviser Tom Bossert resigns

Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert has become the latest in a series of Trump administration officials to step down. Bossert reportedly was a favorite of Chief of Staff John Kelly, who also has been mentioned as someone eyeing the exits after increasingly frequent clashes with others in the White House, including Trump. Bossert resigned two days after Trump's new national security adviser, hawkish former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, started his job, and two days after the resignation of National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Bossert's departure, but said she was "not going to get into specific details about the ongoings of personnel." [The Washington Post]

8.

Judge dismisses suit over Trump financial disclosures

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit calling President Trump's financial disclosures inadequate because they don't clearly distinguish his personal and business debts. Kollar-Kotelly, a Bill Clinton appointee, said federal regulations permit federal employees to combine various debts in financial disclosures. Washington attorney Jeff Lovitky, who filed the lawsuit in March 2017, said he would appeal. Trump has disclosed more than $300 million in debts, but has not specified how much he personally owes. Lovitky is also suing over the financial disclosures of Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Trump senior aide Jared Kushner. Lovitky said Tuesday's ruling should not affect that case. [Politico]

9.

VW preparing to replace CEO who got company through emissions scandal

Volkswagen is poised to replace CEO Matthias Mueller with senior VW executive Herbert Diess, according to numerous media reports on Tuesday. Mueller took over after the German automaker's diesel-emissions cheating scandal erupted in 2015, and he has been credited with putting the company back on track. He has sped up the company's strategy to develop electric vehicles and self-driving cars, and restored strong profits. VW's board, however, is expected to replace Mueller with Diess, VW's brand chief, at a Friday meeting as part of an effort to increase efficiency through changes in the company's management structure. [Bloomberg, Reuters]

10.

Algerian military plane crashes, killing at least 257

An Algerian military plane crashed in a farming area shortly after takeoff on Wednesday, killing at least 257 passengers, primarily soldiers and their relatives. The Soviet-designed transport plane had just taken off from the city of Boufarik, about 20 miles from the capital, Algiers, on a flight to a military base in southwest Algeria. Investigators could not immediately determine the cause of the crash, the Algerian Defense Ministry said in a statement. "There are more than 100 deaths. We can't say exact how many at this point," said Mohammed Achour, chief spokesman for the civil protection agency. [The Associated Press, The Washington Post]