Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 26, 2019

The Trump administration shifts to back full ObamaCare repeal, Trump vents anger at enemies after Mueller report, and more


DOJ shifts, backing full repeal of ObamaCare

The Justice Department in a dramatic reversal revealed in a legal filing on Monday that it supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama's signature health-care law. The department said in the document filed with a federal appeals court that it is "not urging" the reversal of any part of a lower court ruling invalidating the law. In that ruling, Judge Reed O'Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth, Texas, held that the individual mandate to acquire health insurance "can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress's tax power" because lawmakers eliminated the penalty for people who fail to get coverage. The administration had previously said protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be scrapped but the rest of the law should be preserved.


Trump vents anger against 'treasonous' enemies after Mueller report

President Trump on Monday stepped up his attacks on critics after the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, which said his team did not find evidence Trump and his associates colluded with Russia's effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump blamed "treasonous" and "evil" enemies for pushing suggestions of a conspiracy linking his campaign to Moscow. "Hopefully people that have done such harm to our country — we've gone through a period of really bad things happening — those people will certainly be looked at," Trump said. Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said a new investigation should focus on how the Russia inquiry, initially handled by the FBI under then-director James Comey, got started in the first place.


Trump signs proclamation recognizing Israeli control of Golan Heights

President Trump on Monday signed a proclamation recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria during the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 and annexed in 1981. Trump made the announcement in a joint appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. "Today I am taking historic action to promote Israel's ability to defend itself," Trump said, "and really to have a very powerful, very strong national security, which they're entitled to have." Trump first announced his desire to take the step to reverse decades of U.S. policy on the Golan Heights last week. Critics noted the move was counter to international law and defied a United Nations resolution.


Democrats ask Barr to release full Mueller report by April 2

Six Democratic House committee chairs sent Attorney General William Barr a letter Monday, asking him to send Special Counsel Robert Mueller's full report on Russian election meddling by no later than April 2. The three-page letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.), and House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). Barr submitted to Congress his four-page summary of the report on Sunday, but the lawmakers said this is "not sufficient." President Trump signaled Monday that he supported releasing the full Mueller report, which he says exonerates him.


Michael Avenatti charged with trying to extort millions from Nike

FBI agents on Monday arrested Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' former lawyer in her legal battle with President Trump, on charges that he tried to extort $20 million from Nike by threatening to damage the company with negative publicity. Avenatti allegedly told Nike he had evidence its employees funneled money to the families of star high school basketball players and would go public with the information unless the athletic apparel maker met his demands. Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney in Manhattan, described the actions as a "shakedown." Avenatti, 48, also was charged with embezzling a client's money and defrauding a bank. Avenatti said when the evidence in the case is out he "will be fully exonerated and justice will be done."


Sandy Hook victim's father dies in apparent suicide

Jeremy Richman, whose 6-year-old daughter was among the 20 children and six adults killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, died Monday of an apparent suicide, Newtown, Connecticut, police said. Richman's death came days after the suicides of two students who survived the 2018 massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack, Richman and his wife, Jennifer Hensel, co-founded The Avielle Foundation, a nonprofit named after his daughter and dedicated to violence prevention. Richman, a neuroscientist, was on a mission to "uncover the neurological underpinnings of violence," according to the foundation. "Our hearts are shattered," the foundation said.


Apple announces streaming video service

Apple unveiled its new streaming service, a credit card, and a news subscription service Monday at its Cupertino, California, headquarters. The streaming platform, AppleTV+, will feature content from Oprah, Stephen Spielberg, Sesame Street, and dozens more big-name creators. The service is set to launch this fall, but prices were not immediately announced. The new Apple Card is a fee-free digital credit platform where users earn 2 percent cash back on all Apple Pay purchases. Customers can access the card via the iPhone Wallet app or with a physical titanium card. The new expansion of Apple News will offer content from more than 300 magazines for $9.99 per month.


Israel strikes Gaza targets in response to rocket attack

Israel on Monday launched strikes in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory controlled by Hamas, in response to a surprise rocket attack from the area that injured seven people northeast of Tel Aviv. "Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate this," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a White House meeting with President Trump. "Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression. We will do whatever we must do to defend our people and defend our state." Israel also braced for renewed fighting with Hamas. The Islamic militant group said late Monday that a cease-fire had been reached with help from Egyptian mediators, but Israel bombed targets in Gaza and rocket launches continued early Tuesday.


Venezuela hit by 2nd blackout in a month

Venezuela was hit by the second blackout in a month on Monday, deepening tensions in the South American nation's ongoing political and economic crisis. The government of embattled President Nicolás Maduro, who won re-election in a vote widely criticized as fraudulent, alleged an "attack" on its electric system by "Venezuela's far-right," promising power was being "progressively reestablished." Maduro, a socialist who took office in 2013, blamed the first blackout on a "cyberattack" by the U.S., which supports opposition leader Juan Guaidó's claim that he is the country's interim president. Local experts blamed the first power outage on years of insufficient investment and maintenance.


MSU becomes only double-digit seed reach women's Sweet 16

No. 11 seed Missouri State upset No. 3 seed Iowa State on Monday to advance to the Sweet 16 in the 2019 NCAA women's basketball tournament, becoming the only double-digit seed to make the cut. The first half of the Sweet 16 was filled with only top-5 seeded teams. Two No. 6 seeds made it in on Monday night, but Missouri State's 69-60 upset stood out. Alexa Willard scored 17 points to help the Lady Bears make it to their first Sweet 16 since 2001. The team had already knocked off No. 6 seed DePaul in an earlier upset. MSU is the ninth double-digit seed to reach the Sweet 16 in 10 years. They face Stanford next, on Saturday.


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