Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 30, 2019

Trump threatens to close southern border, Barr says he'll release redacted Mueller report by mid-April, and more

1

Trump threatens to close southern border

President Trump told reporters on Friday that unless Mexican authorities immediately halt all illegal immigration he will likely shut down America's southern border next week. "I am not kidding around," he said. "We will close it for a long time." Trump said the decision could include shutting down "all trade." The U.S. and Mexico exchange about $1.7 billion in goods every day, so if Trump follows through on his warnings there could be significant effects on both economies. The State Department on Friday also began informing Congress that it intends to cease giving foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador as punishment for the migrant caravans that have formed in those countries before heading north.

2

Barr says he'll release redacted Mueller report by mid-April

Attorney General William Barr said on Friday that he'd release a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report "by mid-April, if not sooner." The report on Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding Russian election interference was submitted last week. Barr released a memo summarizing the report's "principal conclusions" to Congress last week but said on Friday that the memo was never intended to be "an exhaustive recounting" of the investigation. The report will be released but will redact information related to intel that could compromise sources, affect ongoing matters, or "unduly infringe" on personal privacy of third parties. The full report is nearly 400 pages, said Barr, and will not be submitted to the White House in advance for a privilege review.

3

Black box data suggests Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed due to faulty sensor

Black box data from Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which crashed on March 10, suggested that the accident was caused by a faulty sensor that activated an automated stall-prevention software, which may have repeatedly pushed down on the nose of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, forcing the plane into an irrecoverable nosedive. The revelation is similar to suspicions about another 737 MAX that crashed in Indonesia last October. The news will put even more pressure on Boeing, which is already under scrutiny for reportedly rushing the 737 MAX onto the market without proper pilot training. The investigation into both crashes is still ongoing.

4

Georgia legislature passes 'heartbeat' abortion bill

Legislators in Georgia passed a bill that would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, one of the strictest and most controversial abortion restrictions in the country. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has expressed support for the change, and is expected to sign the bill into law. Critics say the bill bans abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. Kemp and state Republicans have been vocal about their support for gutting Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. Georgia is one of 11 states that introduced "heartbeat bills" this year; the legislation narrowly passed and is expected to face legal challenges.

5

British lawmakers to scramble for Brexit consensus

British lawmakers on Friday voted down Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal once again in a 344 to 286 vote. After this vote rejecting the withdrawal agreement, which was held on the day Brexit was originally slated to happen, Britain has exactly two weeks — until April 12 — to come to another agreement and avoid leaving the European Union without a deal in place at all. Lawmakers will hold additional votes on other Brexit options on Monday, and will spend the weekend scrambling in the hopes that Parliament can reach a majority consensus on some kind of alternative path. Without a step forward, a no-deal Brexit will become inevitable unless EU leaders grant yet another extension. May had promised to step down if Friday's deal had passed.

6

Nevada Democrat says Joe Biden unexpectedly kissed her in 2014

A former Nevada Assemblywoman and onetime candidate for the state's lieutenant governor, Lucy Flores, said on Friday that former Vice President Joe Biden kissed her without permission while backstage at her campaign rally in 2014. Writing about the experience for The Cut, Flores says Biden approached her from behind, put his hands on her shoulders, and kissed the back of her head. She called the incident "demeaning and disrespectful," and said it made her feel "powerless." Biden has faced criticism for what some call inappropriate contact with women over the years. A spokesperson for Biden said he does not remember the incident, but the allegations should be taken seriously.

7

Former University of Oklahoma president accused of sexual misconduct

A former University of Oklahoma student accused the university’s former president, David Boren, of inappropriately touching and kissing him when he worked for Boren as a teaching aide, news outlets reported on Friday. The 77-year-old Boren, who served Oklahoma as both a Democratic Governor and Senator before becoming OU's president in 1994, is under investigation by the university and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation into whether he sexually harassed male subordinates during his tenure. Boren stepped down as president last year.

8

Fossils discovered of animals killed on day Earth-altering meteor hit 66 million years ago

A report made available on Friday by the prominent science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said that an international team of 12 scientists discovered a trove of fossils in North Dakota that consists of remains of insects, fish, mammals, dinosaurs, and plants that appear to date to the very day a giant meteor crashed into the Earth off the coast of modern-day Mexico 66 million years ago. The impact of the meteor infamously launched a series of firestorms that eventually led to the destruction of a significant amount of life on Earth at the time, including dinosaurs, allowing for mammals to emerge as the planet's dominant land megafauna. The discovery of the fossils reportedly represents "unparalleled" evidence of the repercussions of the meteor.

9

Liam Neeson offers new apology for racist revenge story

Actor Liam Neeson apologized on Friday for a story he told last month that was widely seen as alarming and bigoted. In February, Neeson told an interviewer that decades earlier, after a friend of his was allegedly raped by a black man, he roamed the streets with a weapon hoping a random black man would start a fight with him so he could kill him. Neeson previously apologized for his comments, saying he is "not racist" and was simply affected by a "primal urge to lash out." On Friday, however, he said he "missed the point and hurt many people" and had "failed to realize" the implications of his "hurtful and divisive comments." He said they "do not reflect" his true feelings. "I profoundly apologize."

10

Duke survives again, advances to Elite Eight

Top-seeded Duke narrowly escaped with a win for their second NCAA men's Division I basketball tournament game in a row on Friday. The Blue Devils advanced to the Elite Eight after defeating Virginia Tech, 75-73. The Hokies had a chance to tie the game on their final possession, but came up short. On Sunday, Duke will play Michigan State — who defeated LSU on Friday — with the chance to go to the Final Four in Minneapolis next weekend on the line. Also on Friday, Duke's in-state rivals and fellow no. 1 seed North Carolina fell in an upset against Auburn, who will take on their SEC rivals, Kentucky, on Sunday in another Elite Eight matchup.

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