Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 29, 2019

Harold Maass
President Trump speaks at a rally in Michigan
Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images


At Michigan rally, Trump intensifies attacks on critics

President Trump intensified his attacks against Democrats in the wake of what he called "total vindication" by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, saying at a Thursday rally in Michigan that "the Russia hoax is finally dead." It was his first rally since Attorney General William Barr released a four-page summary of Mueller's 300-plus-page report. Barr said Mueller found no evidence Trump or his associates colluded with Russia, although the report didn't draw a conclusion on whether Trump tried to obstruct justice. Trump told the rally crowd "the Russia witch hunt was a plan by those who lost the election to try and illegally gain power by framing innocent Americans," and now "Democrats need to decide whether they will continue to defraud the public with ridiculous bullshit." [The New York Times]


Judge rejects Trump health plans as 'end-run' around ACA

A federal judge late Thursday ruled a Trump administration effort to allow inexpensive health insurance plans avoiding Affordable Care Act requirements was "clearly an end-run around the ACA." The ruling by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates of the District of Columbia blocked new rules providing for "association health plans" designed to let small businesses jointly offer plans outside former President Barack Obama's signature health law. The plans offered lower premiums but fewer health protections than ObamaCare plans. "Indeed, as the president directed, and the secretary of labor confirmed, the final rule was designed to expand access to AHPs to avoid the most stringent requirements of the ACA," wrote Bates, an appointee of former President George W. Bush. [The Washington Post]


Trump overrules DeVos, restores Special Olympics funding

President Trump said Thursday that he was rejecting a proposal by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to cut $17.6 million in funding for the Special Olympics, even though the reduction was included in the $4.75 trillion federal budget his administration sent to Congress. "I just told my people I want to fund the Special Olympics," Trump said. "I have overridden my people. We're funding the Special Olympics." The shift came after DeVos faced heated criticism for the proposal to eliminate Special Olympics funding. Trump did not say whether the administration would seek all of the funding previously earmarked for the program. Per its most recent available financial information, federal grants account for about 10 percent of the Special Olympics' annual budget of around $150 million. [USA Today]


Democrats to subpoena full Mueller report

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said on Monday that his committee will vote on Wednesday to authorize a subpoena of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's full, unredacted report. House Democrats had previously set an April 2 deadline for Attorney General William Barr to deliver Mueller's full report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Barr has said that Mueller did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump's campaign and Russia and did not determine whether Trump obstructed justice. Barr promised on Friday to release a version of the report by mid-April. Though Democrats will likely authorize the subpoena, it will be up to Nadler to decide when to issue the subpoena.


Schiff slams Republicans calling for his resignation

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday called on Adam Schiff to resign his role as chair, saying Special Counsel Robert Mueller's reported discredited Schiff's allegations that President Trump's associates colluded with Russia's election meddling. "We have no faith in your ability to discharge your duties," said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who led the Russia inquiry when the GOP controlled the House. Schiff (D-Calif.) responded by angrily accusing Republicans of ignoring clear signs that Trump's campaign welcomed Russia's help. He pointed out that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort allegedly handed polling data to an associate linked to Russian intelligence, and that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. "You might think that's okay. I don’t," Schiff said. [Politico]


Maduro government bars Guaidó from holding office in Venezuela

The government of embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday said it barred opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim president after Maduro's disputed re-election, from holding public office for 15 years. State comptroller Elvis Amoroso, a Maduro ally, justified the decision by citing alleged financial irregularities. U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino called the ban "ridiculous." Guaidó dismissed the announcement as meaningless, because he views Maduro's government as illegitimate. He vowed to continue to lead the movement to push out Maduro. "We're going to continue in the streets," Guaidó said. [The Associated Press]


Supreme Court rejects request to halt bump-stock ban

The Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request to halt the Trump administration's new rule banning bump stocks while lower courts consider challenges to the policy. There were no noted dissents. The ban took effect on Tuesday after Chief Justice John Roberts rejected a request for a stay made by gun owner groups. Bump stocks are accessories that allow semi-automatic guns to fire continuously with a single pull of the trigger, like fully automatic weapons. The Justice Department issued a rule in December covering semi-automatic rifles with bump stocks under regulation of automatic weapons. Opponents said the rule required the destruction of hundreds of thousands of bump stocks owned by law-abiding gun owners. [CNN]


Nielsen asks Congress for authority to send migrant kids home

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sent a letter to Congress on Thursday asking for new authority to immediately deport minors detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying it is necessary to help address "a humanitarian and security catastrophe that is worsening by the day." In the letter, obtained by ABC News, Nielsen called for the new authority and other action to address a "dire situation" created by a surge in asylum-seeking migrant families and unaccompanied minors who "cannot easily be cared for," processed, or sent home. "Now we face a system-wide meltdown," Nielsen wrote. She also asked for authority to detain families until their asylum requests are processed. [ABC News]


Lyft to raise $2.3 billion in 1st ride-hailing IPO

Lyft priced its shares at $72 apiece on Thursday, valuing the company at more than $24 billion ahead of the Nasdaq debut of its stock on Friday. The offering is expected to raise about $2.3 billion after the ride-hailing company raised its price range due to strong demand and increased the number of shares sold. Lyft was not the first ride-hailing app, but it is becoming the first to be publicly traded. Its larger rival, Uber, is preparing for its own IPO in the next few months. Uber's offering is expected to be the largest in years. Several other high-profile startups, including digital pin board Pinterest, are getting ready to make the same leap. [The New York Times]


New York sues family behind OxyContin maker

New York on Thursday expanded a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin, to include the billionaire family behind the company, the Sacklers, as well as five other drugmakers and four drug distributors. The lawsuit accuses drug manufacturers of collaborating to deny the risks of opioid addiction and sidestepping a system intended to limit painkiller orders. Like suits filed elsewhere, the New York complaint says Purdue Pharma's aggressive marketing led to overprescription of OxyContin starting in the mid-1990s, contributing to the deadly opioid epidemic. New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said the Sacklers were "the masterminds" behind the nation's crisis. The Sackler family members named in the suit said they "have always acted properly." [The Associated Press]