Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 8, 2018

New York's attorney general resigns after abuse allegations, Trump hints he could take legal action against Mueller, and more


New York attorney general resigns after report on abuse allegations

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, an outspoken advocate of the #MeToo movement who filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein over sexual harassment, abruptly resigned late Monday after The New Yorker reported that four women had accused him of physically abusing them. All four had romantic relationships with Schneiderman, a liberal Democrat. Two of the women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, said Schneiderman, 63, slapped and choked them. Schneiderman said he "strongly" contested the allegations, but that they would prevent him from doing his job. Schneiderman said in a statement to The New Yorker that he had "engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity" in private, but had "not assaulted anyone." The women said the violence was not consensual.


Trump hints that he might take legal action against Mueller

President Trump threatened legal action against Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team of "13 Angry Democrats" on Monday. "Just wait 'till the Courts get to see your unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!" Trump tweeted. Trump's new attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said a day earlier on ABC's This Week that Trump could assert executive privilege to ignore a subpoena from Mueller. On Monday, Trump offered no evidence for conflicts of interests on Mueller's team, although he may have been alluding to donations to Democrats made by some of the special counsel's staff members, CNN notes. Mueller is a Republican.


Sessions vows to split up undocumented immigrant families

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Monday that under a zero-tolerance policy the U.S. would split up undocumented parents and children who cross the border together illegally. "If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law," Sessions said in Arizona. "If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border." Parents will go to detention centers and to federal court, while children will go to the Office of Refugee Resettlement to be placed with relatives in the U.S. or in private shelters. "This has always been the policy," said Thomas Homan, deputy director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "But you will see more prosecutions because of the commitment to zero tolerance."


Trump to announce decision on Iran deal

President Trump said Monday that he would announce his decision on whether to preserve the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday. "I will be announcing my decision on the Iran Deal tomorrow from the White House at 2:00 p.m.," he tweeted. Trump has threatened to withdraw from the deal, which suspends punishing economic sanctions in exchange for Iran's commitment to curbing its nuclear program. Trump has called the Obama-era agreement a disaster that would not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and vowed to scrap it unless it can be improved. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hinted that Tehran would respect the accord even if the U.S. doesn't. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the U.K., France, and Germany were committed to preserving the deal.


NRA picks Iran-Contra figure Oliver North as its president

The National Rifle Association's board of directors on Monday named retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, a central figure in the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s, as the group's new president. The move came after NRA President Pete Brownell decided against seeking a second term. "This is the most exciting news for our members since Charlton Heston became president of our association," NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre said. "Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator, and skilled leader." North was convicted in 1989 for obstructing justice, mutilating government documents, and taking an illegal gratuity. He said he was "eager to hit the ground running as the new NRA president."


Trump urges West Virginia GOP primary voters to oppose ex-coal boss

President Trump on Monday urged Republican voters to oppose former mine operator Don Blankenship, described by one administration official as a possible "Roy Moore on steroids," in the West Virginia Republican Senate primary. Blankenship has targeted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) with deeply personal criticism, and McConnell urged Trump during a Sunday phone conversation to step in. Trump said nominating Blankenship would virtually assure a win for incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin (D), and he urged GOP primary voters to back a less controversial candidate. "Don Blankenship currently running for Senate, can't win the General Election in your State … No way!" Trump tweeted. "Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey."


Trump decides not to attend Jerusalem embassy opening

The White House announced Monday that President Trump would not attend the May 14 ceremony to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will lead the delegation, and Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, will be there, too. Both serve as senior White House advisers, and Kushner is leading U.S. efforts to restart peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Trump's decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has disrupted discussions of peace, however. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state, and they have said Trump's decision to treat the city as Israel's capital instead of letting its status be decided through negotiations showed he could not be a fair broker of peace.


Uber links fatal accident to self-driving software

Uber has determined that one of its self-driving cars in Arizona probably detected a pedestrian in the road but did not swerve to prevent a fatal collision because it had been programmed to avoid "false positives," such as a plastic bag floating over the pavement, according to a Monday report by the technology website The Information. The car's sensors appear to have detected a 49-year-old woman walking her bike across a street in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, but the software ruled out an immediate reaction, and the safety driver did not have time to take control manually. Uber said it had retained a former top U.S. transportation official to provide recommendations on safety, but the company made no immediate comment on the news report.


Pence urges OAS members to increase pressure on Venezuela

Vice President Mike Pence on Monday urged the Organization of American States to suspend Venezuela "to uphold democracy and freedom." Pence called on the countries of the Western Hemisphere to increase pressure on the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro with sanctions. Pence also urged Maduro to suspend the May 20 presidential election, saying it was "no more than fraud and sham," and to "open Venezuela to international aid, and do it now." Pence also said in his speech to the OAS that the U.S., which blames the socialist Maduro's government for a deep recession and food shortage, was imposing sanctions on three Venezuelans and 20 companies tied to Maduro for narcotics trafficking. Venezuela did not immediately respond.


Melania Trump launches campaign against cyberbullying, opioid abuse

First lady Melania Trump on Monday launched her initiative to promote the well-being of children. She developed her plans, using the motto "Be Best," over a year of reading to children, speaking out against cyberbullying, and studying issues such as babies being born addicted to drugs. "As a mother and as first lady, it concerns me that in today's fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and oftentimes turn to forms of destructive or addictive behavior such as bullying, drug addiction, or even suicide," she said. Her campaign will promote awareness of a host of problems, including social media, bullying, and opioid abuse.


Ukraine says Kahkovka dam destruction won't derail counteroffensive
Flooding in Kherson after dam failure
A wash

Ukraine says Kahkovka dam destruction won't derail counteroffensive

Why does India have so many train crashes?
Balasore train crash
Today's big question

Why does India have so many train crashes?

Iran claims to have built its first hypersonic missile
The Fattah missile unveiled by Iran.
Iranian Weaponry

Iran claims to have built its first hypersonic missile

Ukraine blames Russia for destroying major Dnipro River dam 'in panic'
Kakhovka Dam
Cui bono?

Ukraine blames Russia for destroying major Dnipro River dam 'in panic'

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strike two?

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Former Vice President Mike Pence on a motorcycle
Talking point

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