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10 things you need to know today: April 16, 2019

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Harold Maass
The Notre Dame Cathedral in flames
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1.

Fire devastates Paris' famed Notre Dame cathedral

A massive fire engulfed Paris' Notre Dame cathedral on Monday. The flames destroyed the 850-year-old Gothic landmark's roof and spire, and spread to its iconic towers as thousands of onlookers watched in shock from the banks of the Seine. Firefighters saved the towers, many priceless works of art, and the church's two most important relics: a tunic worn by Saint Louis, a 13th-Century king, and the crown of thorns Jesus is said to have worn. The cathedral, featured in Victor Hugo's 1831 novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," is one of Paris' most beloved landmarks. Donations immediately began pouring in to restore the church, with two of France's wealthiest families pledging $339 million. "We will rebuild this cathedral," French President Emmanuel Macron said. Officials on Tuesday will start investigating what started the fire. No one was killed in the blaze, but at least one firefighter was seriously injured. [USA Today, The Washington Post]

2.

Barr to release redacted Mueller report on Thursday

Attorney General William Barr will release a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Thursday, a Justice Department spokesperson said Monday. Barr last month sent Congress a letter summarizing Mueller's core conclusions, saying the investigation found no evidence that President Trump's campaign colluded with Russia's 2016 election meddling. He did not reach a determination on whether Trump obstructed justice, although Mueller specifically said the inquiry did not exonerate Trump on that question. Barr said in congressional testimony last week that he would release a redacted version "within a week." Democrats are demanding that Barr send them the entire 400-page report. [The Hill]

3.

Trump continues attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar

President Trump on Monday resumed his attacks against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, calling the Muslim-American member of Congress "out of control" and accusing her of spreading "hate" speech. Trump also blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for criticizing him for tweeting a video of Omar making remarks he suggested were dismissive of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "Before Nancy, who has lost all control of Congress and is getting nothing done, decides to defend her leader, Rep. Omar, she should look at the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and ungrateful U.S. HATE statements Omar has made," Trump said. Omar said Sunday she had faced "an increase in direct threats on my life — many directly referencing or replying to the president's video." [Reuters]

4.

Top Democrats demand communications on White House 'sanctuary city' proposal

Three House Democratic committee chairs launched an investigation Monday into reports that the White House pressured immigration officials to release undocumented migrants in so-called sanctuary cities represented by Democrats. "These reports are alarming," Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), and Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) wrote in a letter to the White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. They said it was "shocking" that administration officials would even consider making such a move "for purely political reasons." White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday that the administration is "looking at all options" if Democrats refuse to negotiate a solution on border security. [The Washington Post]

5.

6 charged with spreading video of killings at Christchurch mosques

Six people appeared before a New Zealand court on Monday on charges that they illegally redistributed the livestreamed video of the deadly mass shootings that took place at two mosques in Christchurch in March. The video was originally shared by the alleged gunman, Brenton Tarrant, who faces 50 murder charges. Two of the six people have been in custody since March, and several were denied bail on Monday. New Zealand's chief censor has banned both the video and Tarrant's racist, anti-immigrant manifesto, which was posted online before the shootings took place. Redistributing either is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. [The Associated Press]

6.

Measles outbreak nears record with dozens of new cases

The number of measles cases reported across the country reached the highest level in five years, with dozens of new cases bringing the number of confirmed infections to 555, according to updated figures released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public health experts now fear that this year's outbreak will set a record nearly two decades after measles was declared "eliminated" in the U.S. Ninety new cases of the potentially deadly and highly contagious disease were confirmed in the second week of April. People in 20 states have been infected. A third of the cases this year have been reported in New York City, nearly all of them in a section of Brooklyn where officials have declared an emergency. [The Washington Post]

7.

Lori Loughlin pleads not guilty in college admissions scandal

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, pleaded not guilty in a high-profile college admissions bribery case, according to court documents that surfaced on Monday. Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California by falsely presenting them as recruits for the women's crew team, even though they never participated in the sport. The pleas came a week after 13 other parents, including actress Felicity Huffman, entered guilty pleas. [The New York Times]

8.

Bill Weld confirms bid to challenge Trump

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R) announced Monday that he will challenge President Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2020. Weld, who formed an exploratory committee in February, officially confirmed that he was running to "seek to preserve what truly makes America great." "It is time for patriotic men and women across our great nation to stand and plant a flag," he said. "It is time to return to the principles of Lincoln — equality, dignity, and opportunity for all." Weld was the 2016 Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee on former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson's ticket. Weld said Trump "mocks the rule of law" and he "would fear for the Republic" if Trump won re-election and continued the same policies for another term. [CNN]

9.

Pulitzers honor 3 papers for coverage of mass shootings

The South Florida Sun Sentinel won the Pulitzer Prize in public service for its coverage of the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, in which 17 people were killed. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette won a breaking-news Pulitzer for its reporting on the synagogue shooting in that city, which left 11 people dead. The Pulitzer Prizes, which were announced Monday, also recognized Maryland's Capital Gazette with a special citation for its coverage of a fatal rampage in its own newsroom. "Clearly, there were a lot of mixed feelings," said Rick Hutzell, editor of Capital Gazette Communications. "No one wants to win an award for something that kills five of your friends." The newspaper published on schedule the day after the attack. Police charged a man with a grudge against the paper. [The Associated Press]

10.

Game of Thrones final season premiere sets ratings record

HBO said Monday that the April 14 premiere of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones attracted 17.4 million viewers, the most ever for the wildly popular show. The audience across HBO's platforms, which include linear, HBOGO, and HBO NOW, marked a jump of more than a million viewers compared to the season seven premiere, which had an audience of 16.1 million. The season seven finale in 2017 had 16.9 million viewers, the previous high mark for the series. The season 8 premiere is now HBO's biggest telecast ever, according to Entertainment Weekly, and the most-watched scripted show of the year, surpassing an episode of The Big Bang Theory that drew 14.1 million viewers. [Medium, Entertainment Weekly]