Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 25, 2019

Harold Maass
Joe Biden in North Carolina
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

1.

Biden announces 2020 presidential bid

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday released a video formally announcing that he is running for president. Biden joined an already crowded and diverse field of 20 Democrats competing for the party's 2020 presidential nomination. Biden declined to run in 2016, when he was grieving the death of his eldest son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden. The former vice president, who has run for president twice before, focused his announcement on President Trump's statement that there were fine people on "both sides" when white supremacists clashed with counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. "If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House," Biden said as he announced his bid, "he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen." [Joe Biden]

2.

Trump says he would ask Supreme Court to block impeachment

President Trump said Wednesday that he would ask the Supreme Court to intervene if Democrats try to impeach him as they continue to investigate him following Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. "I DID NOTHING WRONG," Trump tweeted. "If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only are there no 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors,' there are no Crimes by me at all." Legal experts ridiculed the suggestion the Supreme Court would step in. Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe said Trump appeared to think the two justices he appointed would grant him a "'get out of jail free' card," but "Not even a SCOTUS filled with Trump appointees would get in the way of the House or Senate." [The Washington Post]

3.

Democrats mull fines for uncooperative Trump aides

House Democrats are considering fining Trump administration officials for defying subpoenas to testify before Congress, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. The news came following a statement by President Trump that he doesn't want current or former White House aides to appear before House panels investigating Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report or other congressional oversight investigations, calling them partisan attacks. The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to former White House Counsel Don McGahn, but the White House reportedly plans to fight it. House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) accused the Trump administration of a "massive, unprecedented, and growing pattern of obstruction" for trying to thwart congressional investigations. [Bloomberg, Reuters]

4.

Sri Lankan president changes security leadership after bombings

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said in a televised speech Wednesday that he would replace the head of the country's defense forces within 24 hours, and had asked the defense secretary and national police chief to resign. The shakeup came in response to reports that top security officials had failed to act on warnings of possible attacks by a homegrown Islamist extremist group the government now blames for the Easter Sunday suicide bombings that killed more than 350 people at three churches and three hotels. The capital city of Colombo remained on alert under heightened police patrols and controlled detonations of suspicious items. The U.S. ambassador said that the Trump administration believes "the terrorist plotting is ongoing." [The Associated Press]

5.

Kim Jong Un meets with Vladimir Putin

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on an island off Vladivostok, Russia, on Thursday for their first summit. Kim arrived Wednesday in an armored train after saying during a stop en route that he hoped he and Putin could "discuss concrete questions about peace negotiations on the Korean peninsula, and our bilateral relations." Putin said he and Kim discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Kim wants to denuclearize, Putin said, but he needs "security guarantees" before he can do it. The meeting came after Kim's second summit with President Trump collapsed without a deal on denuclearization, leaving Trump's push for diplomatic progress with Pyongyang in limbo. [Reuters]

6.

Trump threatens to send more troops to border after confrontation

President Trump on Wednesday renewed his threat to send more troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to a confrontation between Mexican and U.S. soldiers there. "Mexico's Soldiers recently pulled guns on our National Guard Soldiers," Trump tweeted. He said, without offering evidence, that the clash was probably done "as a diversionary tactic for drug smugglers on the Border." He added: "Better not happen again! We are now sending ARMED SOLDIERS to the Border. Mexico is not doing nearly enough in apprehending & returning!" Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador vowed to investigate, saying he wanted "a relationship of mutual respect" beneficial to both countries. "We are not going to fight with the government of the United States," he said. [The Associated Press]

7.

Report: Nielsen told not to tell Trump about 2020 election security effort

Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tried to push efforts to thwart renewed Russian election interference after last year's midterm elections, but President Trump's chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, urged her not to mention it in front of Trump, The New York Times reported. Before being forced to resign last month, Nielsen tried to encourage the White House to prepare for additional Russian interference for the coming 2020 presidential election. Mulvaney reportedly was worried Trump equated talk of Russian election meddling as a challenge to the legitimacy of his 2016 election. Mulvaney issued a statement disputing the report. "I don't recall anything along those lines happening in any meeting," he said. [The New York Times, Politico]

8.

Texas executes man for dragging James Byrd Jr. to death

Texas authorities on Wednesday executed white supremacist John William King, 44, by lethal injection for the murder of James Byrd Jr. in a gruesome 1998 hate crime. King and two other white men were convicted of killing Byrd in Jasper, Texas. The killers beat Byrd, chained him to a pickup, and dragged him for three miles on a logging road. Prosecutors said they targeted Byrd because he was black. King was the second man executed in the case. Lawrence Russell Brewer was put to death in 2011. Clara Byrd Taylor, 71, one of Byrd's sisters, said she felt no satisfaction seeing King die, "but it is absolutely necessary to send a message: Hate crimes — especially this type of savagery — will not be tolerated in our society." [USA Today]

9.

Measles cases hit highest level in 25 years

The number of U.S. measles cases so far this year has reached 667, the highest level in 25 years. Sixty-one new infections were reported in New York City on Wednesday. About three-quarters of the illnesses have occurred in New York state, mostly in two ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and suburban Rockland County. Most of the people who have fallen ill had not been vaccinated. Doctors say the measles vaccine is safe and effective. Its widespread use starting in the 1960s helped lead to the declaration that measles had been eliminated across the U.S. in 2000. Public officials say the recent anti-vaccination movement has resulted in renewed outbreaks. [The Associated Press]

10.

Lawyer urges Boy Scouts to open 'perversion files' after abuse report

Victim rights lawyer Jeff Anderson on Wednesday called on the Boy Scouts of America to release its "perversion files" after a report in newly released court documents that more than 12,000 scouts were sexually abused by adults in the organization over seven decades. The documents showed that expert witness Janet Warren, a University of Virginia medical school professor, revealed during a January trial she has been evaluating the Boy Scouts' handling of sexual abuse cases from 1944 to 2016. During this trial, Warren said that there were 7,819 perpetrators and 12,254 victims within the organization. The Boy Scouts organization apologized "to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting," and said it never "knowingly allowed a sexual predator to work with youth." [NBC News, ABC News]