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10 things you need to know today: April 23, 2019

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Harold Maass
Nancy Pelosi at a news conference
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1.

Pelosi says no immediate plan to start impeachment proceedings

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Democratic lawmakers in a rare Monday night conference call that the party's House leadership has no immediate plan to launch impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Pelosi said that before taking such dramatic steps after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, Congress' focus should be on conducting thorough investigations into Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice by Trump. "This isn't about Democrats or Republicans. It's about saving our democracy," Pelosi said. Some Democrats said there was already ample justification for impeachment. Democratic presidential candidates were split. In a Monday event on CNN, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) backed impeachment. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said he worried focusing on Trump and the Mueller report rather than issues facing ordinary Americans "works to Trump's advantage." [The Washington Post, Reuters]

2.

Sri Lanka military gets broad powers to arrest bombing suspects

Sri Lanka's president has given the country's military special broad powers to detain and arrest anyone suspected of involvement in the coordinated series of deadly bombings on Easter Sunday. The attacks were carried out by seven suicide bombers, and targeted three Christian churches holding Easter services and three hotels. The military has imposed a curfew and patrolled the streets, and the government blocked access to social media. On Tuesday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Sri Lanka's defense minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, said Tuesday that investigators believe "this attack was carried out in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch," New Zealand, although he presented no evidence. The death toll in the Sri Lanka bombings rose to at least 321 people. [The Associated Press, BBC News]

3.

Extinction Rebellion protests expand on Earth Day

Los Angeles County police arrested four people Monday for their part in an Earth Day protest held at Universal Studios in Universal City, California. Two activists from a group called Extinction Rebellion LA climbed the iconic Universal Studios globe with green flags reading "climate emergency" to call attention to the need to do more to fight climate change. The protest at the theme park came after days of Extinction Rebellion protests around the world. The number of protesters arrested in London in eight days of non-violent civil disobedience reached 1,065, London police said. Similar protests were held in New York City, Paris, and Berlin. "We're hoping that the political class wake up," Extinction Rebellion co-founder Roger Hallam told The Guardian on Monday. [Deadline, The Washington Post]

4.

Right-wing militia detaining migrants allegedly 'trained' for assassinations

The right-wing militia whose leader was arrested over the weekend came under the scrutiny of federal authorities in 2017 after the FBI received reports its members were "training" to assassinate former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and liberal donor George Soros, according to documents unsealed Monday in federal court. The leader, Larry Hopkins, appeared in federal court on Monday in connection with the charge of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. The arrest came days after the group, which calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots, posted videos online showing members detaining hundreds of migrants. Critics said the detentions amounted to kidnapping. Militia members said they were conducting "verbal citizen's arrests." [The New York Times, NBC News]

5.

House panel subpoenas former White House Counsel Don McGahn

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday issued a subpoena requesting that former White House Counsel Don McGahn testify before the panel on May 21. The committee gave McGahn until May 7 to hand over documents related to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's discussion of sanctions with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; President Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey; and possible pardons for Flynn, Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen, and Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The committee is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice. [CNN]

6.

Mexico detains hundreds of Central American migrants

Mexican security agents on Monday detained hundreds of Central American migrants traveling through the southern state of Chiapas toward the U.S. border. Mexican federal police and immigration agents targeted people in the back of a caravan of about 3,000 migrants. The agents detained men, women, and children who had stopped in the shade to escape extreme heat, forcing them into patrol trucks and vans. As many as 500 migrants were driven to buses and were believed headed to an immigration station for the start of deportation proceedings. About 500 other migrants evaded capture by fleeing onto private property. One of them, Kevin Escobar of Honduras, said he would never return to his hometown, San Pedro Sula, because "the gangs are kidnapping everyone back there." [The Associated Press]

7.

Trump says Cain has withdrawn from consideration for Fed post

President Trump on Monday announced that former Godfather's Pizza chief and presidential candidate Herman Cain had withdrawn his name from consideration for an appointment to the Federal Reserve Board. Cain was one of two potential candidates for the Fed, along with economic adviser Stephen Moore, who had faced bipartisan objections. Cain's detractors said he was an inappropriate choice partly because his 2012 presidential bid imploded after old allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior resurfaced. Trump has faced criticism for trying to appoint loyalists to the central bank, which has historically been independent. [The New York Times]

8.

Trump sues to block House subpoena of financial records

President Trump and the Trump Organization on Monday filed suit against his own accounting firm and House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) seeking to block a subpoena of the accounting firm and financial statements. The suit, filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, accuses Democrats of using their newfound control of the House to wage an "all-out political war" against Trump, with subpoenas as their "weapon of choice." Cummings previously requested financial records from an accounting firm Trump and his business have used, Mazars USA. The subpoena was issued after Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified that the president has inflated his wealth on financial statements, with Cummings seeking to corroborate these claims. [The Washington Post, ABC News]

9.

Supreme Court to decide whether anti-discrimination law protects gay workers

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it would review three cases concerning whether federal anti-discrimination laws prevent employers from firing workers over their sexual orientation or gender identity. The cases center around the question of whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and sex, protects gay and transgender employees. The cases will be the first major gay rights issues the high court has considered since Justice Anthony Kennedy cast several key votes on landmark gay-rights victories, including the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case protecting the right to same-sex marriage. Kennedy's replacement, Trump appointee Justice Brett Kavanaugh, is considered to be more conservative than Kennedy. [The Washington Post]

10.

Trump approval falls, but so does support for impeachment

President Trump's approval rating has fallen by 5 percentage points to equal his all-time low since last week's release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election meddling and possible obstruction of justice by Trump, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll. Only 39 percent of voters surveyed said they approved of Trump's job performance, down from 44 percent the previous week. Fifty-seven percent said they disapproved of Trump's performance. Still, the poll found scant support for impeaching Trump. Only 34 percent of respondents said Congress should launch impeachment proceedings that could result in removing Trump from office, a drop from 39 percent in January. [Politico]