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10 things you need to know today: April 22, 2019

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Harold Maass
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1.

Democrats debate whether to launch impeachment proceedings

House Democrats plan to meet this week to discuss whether to launch impeachment proceedings against President Trump, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday. Schiff told Fox News Sunday that the findings in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report were "serious and damning." The report detailed numerous Trump actions that could be seen as obstruction of justice, although it said there was not sufficient evidence to charge anyone in the Trump campaign with criminal cooperation with Russian election interference. "That's going to be a very consequential decision and one that I'm going to reserve judgment on until we've had a chance to fully deliberate on it," Schiff said. [The Washington Post]

2.

Death toll rises after Sri Lanka bombings

The death toll from coordinated Easter Sunday suicide bombings at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka rose to at least 290 overnight. The nine blasts in three cities, including the capital city of Colombo, also left more than 500 people injured. Police have arrested 24 people in connection with the attacks, which were described as the worst violence to hit the South Asian island since the end of a long and bloody civil war a decade ago. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "several" Americans were among the people killed. He blamed the attacks on "radical terrorists." Reports surfaced that a top police official had warned security officials 10 days earlier of a threat to churches by radical Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama'ath, which the government is blaming for the attack. [CBS News, The New York Times]

3.

Sri Lanka blocks social media to curb 'false news reports'

Sri Lanka blocked social media sites after Sunday bombings killed more than 290 people at churches and luxury hotels in what was being investigated as a coordinated attack. The government said it was temporarily suspending access to sites including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Viber because "false news reports" were being posted online. A Facebook spokesperson said its users "rely on our services to communicate with their loved ones and we are committed to maintaining our services and helping the community and the country during this tragic time." Pope Francis denounced the bombings. Speaking during Easter Sunday celebrations at the Vatican, he added: "I want to express my loving closeness to the Christian community, targeted while they were gathered in prayer, and all the victims of such cruel violence." [CNN, The Washington Post]

4.

Nadler wants McGahn to testify before House panel

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that his panel would call former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify about what he told Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators. According to a redacted version of Mueller's report released by the Department of Justice last week, Trump told McGahn to fire Mueller but McGahn wouldn't do it, saying "that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre." Nadler said he also wanted to hear testimony from Mueller and Attorney General William Barr. The alleged attempt to fire Mueller is one of several instances of possible obstruction identified by Mueller. Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said Sunday that firing Mueller would not have been obstruction of justice because "there were very good reasons to fire" him, including the hiring of "very, very questionable" people to involve in an investigation of Trump. [The Hill]

5.

Comedian wins Ukraine presidency in a landslide

Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky won his country's presidential election in a landslide Sunday. Exit polls suggested that Zelensky, who held a strong lead in the first round three weeks ago, appeared to have trounced incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, taking more than 70 percent of the vote. "I will never let you down," Zelensky, 41, told supporters. The results were not immediately confirmed, but Poroshenko conceded that Zelensky, who stars in a satirical TV series in which his character accidentally becomes president, had won a five-year term. "The outcome of the election leaves us with uncertainty [and] unpredictability," said Poroshenko. "I will leave office but I want to firmly stress — I will not quit politics." [BBC News]

6.

Giuliani: 'There's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians'

President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, defended the Trump campaign following Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, which indicated that Trump associates had sought to exploit information Russians hacked from Democrats in 2016. "There's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians," Giuliani said on CNN's State of the Union. Trump pushed back against critics of his actions described in Mueller's report. "Despite No Collusion, No Obstruction, The Radical Left Democrats do not want to go on to Legislate for the good of the people, but only to Investigate and waste time," he tweeted before attending an Easter service in Palm Beach. [The New York Times]

7.

4 ISIS militants killed in attack in Saudi Arabia

Saudi security forces killed four alleged Islamic State militants who attacked a state security building, Saudi authorities told state media. Three security force members were injured in the attack, which targeted a domestic intelligence service station in Zulfi, a small city 155 miles northwest of the capital city, Riyadh. The alleged attackers had automatic weapons, bombs, and Molotov cocktails, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported. Video posted online showed a car at a checkpoint, and two bloody corpses nearby. The ISIS news agency, Amaq, claimed in a video that ISIS was responsible for the attack on the security building. [Reuters]

8.

Moulton joins increasingly crowded Democratic presidential field

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) on Monday became the latest Democrat to announce he's running for president. The 40-year-old Marine veteran vowed to attract young voters and veterans by focusing on national security as well as jobs, health care, climate change, and leadership. "I'm running because we have to beat Donald Trump," he said. In his campaign-launch video, he added: "Decades of division and corruption have broken our democracy and robbed Americans of their voice. It's all led to an administration that's turned away from our values and is shredding our moral authority." Moulton was first elected in 2014 after beating a longtime incumbent in a primary, and he stoked controversy by opposing Rep. Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) election as House speaker. [Politico, NBC News]

9.

Oil prices jump after report of U.S. ending Iran sanctions waivers

The Trump administration is preparing to announce an end to waivers from sanctions on Iranian oil imports, The Washington Post reported Sunday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly plans to announce Monday morning that, starting May 2, all countries — including U.S. allies — will have to stop buying Iranian crude or face U.S. sanctions. The move comes roughly a year after the Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, which provided Tehran with sanctions relief in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program. In November, the State Department gave eight countries — China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy, and Greece — 180-day waivers to give them time to find sources to replace Iranian oil. Crude prices jumped 3 percent following reports of the policy change. [The Washington Post, CNBC]

10.

Curse of La Llorona leads the weekend box office

The Curse of La Llorona led the domestic box office, earning $26.5 million in its opening weekend. Shazam! fell to No. 2 after two weeks at the top. La Llorona was the latest of several horror movies to beat expectations. The Warner Bros. and New Line film is based on a Mexican legend about a woman who kills her children, then wanders searching for them. The 20th Century Fox inspirational film Breakthrough came in third with $11.1 million, a solid opening for a faith-based film. Overall, it was Hollywood's worst Easter weekend in 14 years, probably because studios avoided launching big-budget films ahead of the April 26 opening of Disney and Marvel's Avengers: Endgame, which is expected to shatter box office records. [Variety, The Associated Press]