Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 12, 2018

House Speaker Paul Ryan announces he won't run again, Trump meets with his security team to decide on Syria response, and more

1

Paul Ryan announces he won't seek re-election

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced Wednesday that he would not run for re-election in November, delivering a setback to House Republicans as they head into a tough midterm campaign. "What I realized is if I serve for one more term, my kids will only have known me as a weekend dad," Ryan said. Despite the personal reasons he gave, Ryan's decision marked the most jarring departure yet as dozens of Republicans bow out ahead of a projected "blue wave" in November. Ryan, who plans to retire when his term ends in January, said the prospect of losing control of the House to Democrats had nothing to do with his decision. Friends said once Congress passed tax reform, a longtime goal, Ryan was ready to move on from an increasingly frustrating job, Axios reports.

2

Trump meets with security team on Syria after tweeting 'Get ready, Russia'

President Trump and his national security team met Wednesday to discuss the U.S. response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians in a rebel-held town in Syria. Trump appeared to signal an impending attack when he tweeted, "Get ready Russia, because [missiles] will be coming." White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, however, "Final decisions haven't been made." Trump later tweeted: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!" British Prime Minister Theresa May is holding an emergency cabinet meeting on Thursday to consider joining the U.S. and France in a response. Russia said Thursday that Syrian government forces have taken over the town where the alleged attack occurred.

3

Zuckerberg concedes social media regulations 'inevitable'

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced a second day of questioning on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, fielding tougher questions from members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee than he did Tuesday from members of the Senate. For five hours, both Democrats and Republicans grilled him on Facebook's privacy policies, often cutting him off and pressing him to answer "yes" or "no." He repeated his apologies for the accessing of personal information of 87 million users by data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica, but lawmakers questioned whether Facebook could fix its privacy problems without government help in the form of regulation. Zuckerberg, appearing frustrated at times, acknowledged that some kind of regulation of social media probably was "inevitable."

4

Sessions tells border sheriffs crackdown is necessary

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told border sheriffs on Wednesday that cracking down on illegal crossings over the Mexican border was crucial to national security and an orderly immigration system. Sessions said without tough border enforcement, smugglers can bring opioids and cocaine into the U.S., and undocumented migrants can enter at will. "This is not acceptable," Sessions said at the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition annual spring meeting with the Southwestern Border Sheriff's Coalition. "It cannot continue." The event, held in Las Cruces, New Mexico, brought together sheriffs from 31 departments in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. As Sessions arrived, dozens of activists protested and waved signs critical of President Trump's proposed border wall and the dispatching of National Guard troops to border areas.

5

Vermont governor signs state's first significant gun restrictions

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) on Wednesday signed a gun law raising the minimum age for gun buyers from 18 to 21 and banning high-capacity magazines. The legislation also makes it easier to take guns away from people deemed to pose a threat. The law contains the first significant restrictions on gun owners in the largely rural state. Some demonstrators outside the Statehouse shouted "thank you," while others, some clad in hunter orange, yelled, "Traitor!" Scott called for gun restrictions after authorities arrested a student on Feb. 15, the day after the Parkland, Florida, school massacre, on charges that he was planning a school shooting. "This is not the time to do what's easy," Scott said. "It's time to do what's right."

6

Report: FBI sought Access Hollywood tape records in raid on Trump lawyer

The FBI was reportedly looking for documents concerning the infamous Access Hollywood tape when they raided the office and residences of President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Monday. The tape, recorded in 2005 and made public just before the 2016 election, caught Trump bragging into a hot mic about kissing women and grabbing women by their genitals. While it wasn't immediately clear what Cohen's relation might be to the tape, the news "reveals a new front in the investigation into Mr. Cohen that is being led by the United States attorney's office in Manhattan," The New York Times writes. The FBI agents are also thought to be investigating "hush" payments Cohen might have made to women on Trump's behalf as well as other possible financial crimes.

7

Pope Francis apologizes for 'grave errors'

Pope Francis said Wednesday that he had made "grave errors" in judgment by pushing back at victims in Chile's sex abuse scandal. After sending an investigator to look into the case, the pope asked for victims' forgiveness, saying he had discredited the Vatican. In a public letter, he summoned Chile's bishops to Rome for an emergency meeting on the scandal. Francis said his mistakes stemmed from a lack of "truthful and balanced information" about the case of Bishop Juan Barros, a one-time protege of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, Chile's most notorious sexually predatory priest. Some victims have said Barros witnessed some of the abuse by Karadima but did nothing to stop it. Francis aggressively defended Barros during a January trip to Chile.

8

Pompeo heads into confirmation hearing to become Trump's top diplomat

CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Thursday will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for what could be a tough confirmation hearing on his nomination to become President Trump's next secretary of state. Trump picked Pompeo when he fired Rex Tillerson. In prepared remarks, Pompeo signals his intention to take a harder line toward Moscow. "Russia continues to act aggressively, enabled by years of soft policy toward that aggression. That's now over," he plans to say. He is expected to face questions from lawmakers who say Trump has been too soft on Russia. Trump often clashed with Tillerson, who had a less confrontational approach to foreign policy, but the president reportedly sees Pompeo, a former GOP congressman, as more in line with his world view.

9

Prominent Chicago-area megachurch pastor resigns after misconduct allegations

Bill Hybels, the prominent 66-year-old pastor of a Chicago-area megachurch, has resigned after facing misconduct allegations he has called "flat-out lies." Female congregants and staffers have accused him of lewd comments and inappropriate touching going back more than two decades. Hybels founded the Willow Creek Community Church more than 40 years ago. He said he had been "naive" and "placed myself in situations that would have been far wiser to avoid," but that independent investigations had found no evidence to support the allegations. Hybels, once a spiritual adviser to then-President Bill Clinton, said he appreciated the support he has received from members of his congregation, but said the controversy was distracting from the church's mission.

10

Report on affair triggers calls for Missouri governor to resign

A special Missouri state House committee released a report on Wednesday detailing an extramarital affair Gov. Eric Greitens (R) had with his hairdresser, who was not identified. The woman testified under oath that Greitens groped her, spanked her, and coerced her to perform a sexual act. She also said he took a photo of her semi-nude and blindfolded, and threatened to release it if she divulged the affair. A grand jury indicted Greitens in February on an invasion of privacy charge. Greitens, who did not cooperate with the GOP-led investigation, called it a "political witch hunt" on Wednesday. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), who is running for Senate, and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) both urged Greitens to resign.

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