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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 20, 2019

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Tim O'Donnell
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1.

Warren urges House to begin impeachment proceedings

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Friday called on the House to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Warren said her reasoning is based on the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which Attorney General William Barr made available — with redactions — to Congress and the public on Thursday. "The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty," Warren tweeted. In an appearance on CNN's The Rachel Maddow Show on Friday evening, Warren added that "the report is absolutely clear that a foreign government attacked our electoral system to help Donald Trump." Warren is the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to openly call for impeachment. [NBC News, Elizabeth Warren]

2.

House Democrats issue subpoena for full Mueller report

House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) issued a subpoena on Friday to obtain the full, unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding the meddling. The House Judiciary Committee approved the subpoena earlier this month, anticipating a desire for an unredacted report and Mueller's underlying documentation. The subpoena has now been fired off, demanding to see Mueller's evidence and summaries of key witness interviews by May 1. If Attorney General William Barr ignores it, the Judiciary Committee could hold him in contempt, setting up a potentially lengthy court battle. Nadler said the report was troubling and "it now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct." [The New York Times]

3.

Joe Biden begins fundraising for 2020 campaign

Former Vice President Joe Biden is accepting donations for a presidential bid, though he has not yet announced the launch of an official campaign. He is widely expected to jump into the 2020 race in the coming weeks, and sources told CNN he will do so next week. Biden has run for president twice before, and polls show he could quickly become the Democratic frontrunner once he announces his bid. Democratic donors and party fundraisers received emails in recent days encouraging financial support for Biden, asking donors to send checks to Democratic consulting firms. Biden cannot officially accept any donations until he enters the race. [The New York Times, CNN]

4.

Two arrested following murder of Northern Irish journalist during riot

Police arrested two men in connection with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry, Northern Ireland on Saturday. McKee, 29, was shot and killed amid a riot in Derry on Thursday as she watched Irish nationalist youths clash with police during a riot. Police believe the suspects in the murder are linked to the dissident republican group the New Irish Republican Army, an offshoot of the Irish Republican Army which remains opposed to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the fragile ceasefire in Northern Ireland. McKee's murder follows the explosion of a large car bomb in Derry in January, which was also blamed on the New IRA. Northern Ireland's political leaders — nationalists and unionists alike — urged for calm following the violence. [The Irish News, Reuters]

5.

Judge: Residents of Flint can sue federal government

A federal judge ruled on Friday that residents of Flint, Michigan, can move forward with a lawsuit against the federal government regarding the city's lack of clean drinking water. The government is not immune from legal action, ruled Judge Linda Parker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She didn't rule that the government was negligent in 2014 when Flint's drinking water first became contaminated with lead, but said the Environmental Protection Agency could be sued by residents who have criticized the slow response to the crisis. EPA employees knew lead was leaching from old pipes, said Parker, saying the "lies went on for months while the people of Flint continued to be poisoned." [The Associated Press, The Hill]

6.

Trump praises Haftar in reversal of Libya policy

The White House revealed on Friday that President Trump spoke with Libya's Gen. Khalifa Haftar via phone call on Monday. Trump reportedly praised Haftar, who is leading a rebel assault on the country's capital Tripoli, as he tries to wrest control from the incumbent United Nations-backed government. The two discussed Haftar's "significant role" in fighting terrorism and securing Libya's oil resources, as well as their "shared vision" for Libya's future. Trump's praise of Haftar is seen as a reversal of United States policy in Libya — Secretary of State Michael Pompeo demanded a halt to Haftar's assault earlier this month. The news of the phone call reportedly led to thousands of Libyans taking to the streets in protest. It is unclear why the White House waited several days to announce the phone call. [Al Jazeera, France 24]

7.

Man charged with threatening Democratic lawmakers

A man was arrested on Friday after accusations that he made threatening phone calls to Democratic officials. John Kless, 49, of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area, reportedly left vulgar messages rife with racist and anti-Islamic rhetoric on Tuesday. He also threatened the lawmakers with violence. Among the recipients of the threats were Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). In all three messages, Kless mentioned "hatred" for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), though he reportedly did not call the congresswoman herself. Kless appeared in court on Friday and was released. Arraignment is set for May 3 in Fort Lauderdale. [CNN, The Washington Post]

8.

Former U.S. marine arrested in connection with raid on North Korean embassy in Spain

The Washington Post reported on Friday that the United States made the first arrest related to the mysterious raid of North Korea's Embassy in Spain in February. During the raid, masked intruders tied up staff and stole computers before fleeing to the U.S. On Thursday, U.S. authorities arrested Christopher Ahn, a former U.S. Marine. Ahn is a member of Free Joseon, a group dedicated to the overthrow of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and his familial dynasty. Free Joseon reportedly claimed responsibility for the embassy raid in March. The State Department said that the United States had nothing to do with the incident, despite initial reports out of Spain that the CIA was involved. [The Washington Post, The Hill]

9.

Flu season longer but less deadly than 2018's

This year's flu season is shaping up to be record-breaking in duration, despite a sharp decrease in the number of flu-related deaths from last year. A surprise second wave has drawn this year's season out to 21 weeks and counting, making it the longest in a decade and one of the longest seasons since the government started tracking seasons 20 years ago. An estimated 35,000-50,000 Americans have died from issues related to the disease in 2018-19, compared to 80,000 in 2017-18. Last year's season lasted 19 weeks and was the deadliest in 40 years. Although an unpredictable virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this year's flu season should be nearing its end. [The Associated Press]

10.

The bees of Notre Dame survived cathedral fire

The three beehives that inhabit Notre Dame survived after the famous cathedral went up in flames on Monday. The hives were untouched by the blaze since they are located nearly 30 meters below the roof where the fire spread. Each hive houses around 60,000 bees. Had the beehives been closer to the fire and reached higher temperatures, the bees would likely have died due to melting wax. But because bees don't have human-like lungs, the smoke itself was not enough to cause them to perish. "I was incredibly sad about Notre Dame because it's such a beautiful building, and as a Catholic it means a lot to me. But to hear there is life when it comes to the bees, that's just wonderful," beekeeper Nicolas Gean said. "I was overjoyed." [CNN]