Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 2, 2018

Mueller reportedly threatened to subpoena Trump, states sue the EPA for ditching Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, and more


Report: Mueller raised option of subpoena for Trump

Special Counsel Robert Mueller raised the possibility of issuing a subpoena for President Trump after Trump's lawyers said in a "testy" March meeting that the president did not have to answer questions in Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing four people familiar with the matter. Trump's then-lead lawyer, John Dowd, reportedly responded by saying, "You are screwing with the work of the president of the United States." Dowd confirmed to The Associated Press that Mueller's team mentioned the option of compelling Trump to testify. Instead, the special counsel's team agreed to give Trump's attorneys more details on topics they wanted to discuss with Trump.


17 states and D.C. sue EPA for scrapping Obama fuel efficiency standards

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its decision to scrap an Obama-era policy calling for significantly higher vehicle emissions standards by 2025. The lawsuit targets the Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator, Scott Pruitt, stating that Pruitt acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" when he rolled back the standards, which would have required automakers to produce vehicles that get 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving, about 10 miles more than the existing standard. California, one of the states suing, has been operating under a waiver that lets it impose tougher greenhouse gas rules, but the Trump administration has proposed changing those standards as well.


Trump calls leak of Mueller questions 'disgraceful'

President Trump on Tuesday called it "disgraceful" that someone had leaked a list of questions Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team wants to ask him in what Trump called Mueller's "Russian Witch Hunt." Trump also said via Twitter that the list, obtained by The New York Times, contained "no questions on Collusion." The list, however, does contain numerous queries focused on possible collusion between Trump associates and Moscow. For example, Mueller wants to ask what Trump knew about Russian hacking and social media posts, and a Trump Tower meeting between top aides and a Moscow-linked Russian lawyer. The four dozen questions on the list were transcribed by Trump's lawyers, then given to the newspaper by someone not on the president's legal team.


Trump's ex-doctor says president's aides took records in 'raid'

President Trump's personal doctor said that Trump staffers conducted a "raid" of his office last year and took Trump's medical records, NBC News reported Tuesday. Dr. Harold Bornstein, who was Trump's New York doctor for three decades, said he was left feeling "raped" after three people, including Trump's longtime personal bodyguard and a top Trump Organization lawyer, seized the president's medical records two days after Bornstein told The New York Times that Trump takes a hair growth medication. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed Bornstein's account, saying, "As is standard operating procedure, the White House Medical Unit took possession of the president's medical records." Bornstein also said Trump "dictated" a letter during the presidential campaign that said Trump was in "astonishingly excellent" health.


Rosenstein says DOJ won't be 'extorted'

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Tuesday dismissed Republican lawmakers who have drafted articles of impeachment against him as cowards who lack "the courage to put their name on" the document, adding that the threat would not affect how he does his work. "I think they should understand by now that the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted," Rosenstein said at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. "We're going to do what's required by the rule of law." Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus recently finalized draft impeachment articles targeting Rosenstein for approving the warrant to monitor Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser who visited Russia in July 2016, during the presidential campaign.


Armenian opposition leader calls for general strike after leadership bid rejected

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan called for a non-violent general strike early Wednesday, saying he was not giving up even though lawmakers from the ruling Republican Party rejected his bid to be prime minister. "We will block the streets, the airports, the metro, the railway, everything that can be blocked," said Pashinyan, leader of a protest movement that forced out the veteran leader of the nation of three million. "If everyone participates in a total act of civil disobedience, this will be a total victory of the people of Armenia." Pashinyan was the only candidate for prime minister. Republican Party lawmakers called him unqualified and left the post vacant. Pashinyan had threatened a "political tsunami" if he did not get the job.


Apple report eases fears over iPhone sales

Apple reported Tuesday that it sold 52.2 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2018, up from 51 million in the same period last year but just shy of the 53 million analysts expected. The company's sales reached $61 billion, up 16 percent over the same period in 2017. Its profits, boosted by the higher price of the newest iPhone, jumped by 25 percent to $13.8 billion, easing fears that cooling iPhone sales would hurt the bottom line. Apple also promised another $100 billion in stock buybacks, helping to send its shares up by 3.6 percent in after-hours trading.


Insect-borne diseases increase as temperatures rise

The number of people in the U.S. contracting diseases from mosquito, tick, and flea bites has more than tripled from 27,000 in 2004 to 96,000 in 2016, federal health officials reported Tuesday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said that since 2004, nine of these diseases have appeared for the first time. The changes also include rising cases of Lyme disease, new tick-borne diseases like Heartland virus, and, in Puerto Rico and other island territories, mosquito-borne viruses including dengue and Zika. Dr. Lyle Petersen, the CDC's director of vector-borne diseases and lead author of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, said warmer weather is a key cause of the changes. "The numbers of some of these diseases have gone to astronomical levels," Petersen said.


Facebook says it will let users opt out of web-data collection

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday that the social network would soon start letting users opt out of the company's practice of gathering data on their web browsing history. Facebook uses the information to sell targeted ads. Under Facebook's upcoming "clear history" program, users will be able to delete their web data from Facebook servers, or simply tell the company not to collect it at all. Facebook would still gather the information, but anonymously, offering it to companies for analytics purposes but not linking it to an individual user. Facebook has been facing criticism over its policies to protect user privacy following the revelation that data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica, which did work for President Trump's campaign, improperly used user data for political ads.


Mean Girls and SpongeBob SquarePants lead Tony nominations

The Mean Girls and SpongeBob SquarePants musicals led the 2018 Tony Award nominations Tuesday morning with 12 nods each, including Best Musical. The new musical The Band's Visit, which also is in the running for Best Musical, and the revivals of Angels in America and Carousel, were close behind with 11 nominations apiece, while Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and a revival of My Fair Lady earned 10. Just 30 Broadway productions were eligible for the Tony Awards this year, the smallest pool in more than a decade. Actresses Tina Fey and Amy Schumer received nominations, as did actors Denzel Washington, Andrew Garfield, and Michael Cera. The winners will be announced June 10 on CBS.


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