Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 27, 2019

Tim O'Donnell
Sri Lanka police.


Police raid in Sri Lanka leads to 16 deaths

Days after a series of bombings killed more than 200 people in Sri Lanka on Sunday, 16 more people died in the country after police raided a house, which was reportedly harboring suspected terrorists, in the town of Sainthamaruthu on Friday. During the raid, gunmen fired on police and three men reportedly set off explosives in the house, killing six children and three women. Another woman was reportedly killed in the crossfire as she passed the house on a rickshaw. Six suspected terrorists were also killed. Two of the suspected terrorists, who are believed to be affiliated with National Tawheed Jamath, a local extremist Islamist group that possibly has links to the Islamic State, are reportedly on the run following the raid. [CNN, BBC]


Pentagon plans expanded role for military at the border

The Pentagon is reportedly looking to increase the military's role at the border and allow several hundred troops to interact directly with migrants. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is expected to approve a request from the Department of Homeland Security of 300 waivers for military lawyers, cooks, and drivers. The waivers would exempt them from the policy that prevents interaction with migrants so that they can assist in deportation hearings, drive migrants to detention facilities, and hand out drinks and snacks while law enforcement accompany them. The Posse Comitatus Act prevents the military from being used for law enforcement purposes, placing restrictions on what those who President Trump has deployed to the southern border can legally do. [The Washington Post]


Biden raises $6.3 million in first day of campaign

Former Vice President Joe Biden raised $6.3 million in the first 24 hours since he launched a presidential bid, his campaign announced Friday. The massive haul surpasses that of any other Democratic candidate so far. He received 107,431 online donations from 96,926 individual donors across 50 states, with an average contribution size of $41, his campaign said. For comparison, former Texas lawmaker Beto O'Rourke took in $6.1 million in the first 24 hours of his campaign, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) raised $5.9 million upon announcing his presidential campaign, though with 223,000 individual donors. The major surge came despite public scrutiny on Biden's past handling of the Anita Hill hearing; he said on The View that he is "sorry" Hill was "treated the way she was treated" during the 1991 hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, but that he didn't treat her "badly." [Texas Tribune, The Hill]


NRA chief executive claims board president is trying to force him out

In a letter sent to National Rifle Association board members Thursday, the organization's chief executive Wayne LaPierre claimed the board's president, Oliver North, is trying to extort him into resigning. LaPierre said North told him the NRA's longtime advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen, would send a letter to the board through North that would be "bad" for LaPierre, who said he refused to comply with the threat. North sent his own letter to the board in response writing that his actions were "for the good of the NRA." The power struggle reportedly stems in part from a dispute between the NRA and Ackerman McQueen. The NRA sued the firm earlier this month, claiming Ackerman McQueen refused to provide records justifying its billings. [The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post]


Buttigieg to stop accepting lobbyist money

In a Friday email to supporters, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg's campaign manager announced the contender would stop accepting "any money from lobbyists" and would return $30,250 he had already received from 39 registered lobbyists. Other top tier Democratic candidates — namely Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.), and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), as well as Beto O'Rourke — have already sworn off lobbyist cash. The move comes a day after former Vice President Joe Biden entered the race and promptly said he would not accept money from lobbyists and corporate PACs. Still, on Thursday night, Biden held a fundraiser full of lobbyists and Republican donors at the home of a Comcast executive who manages the company's lobbying. [CNN, The Week]


Trump tells NRA the U.S. will withdraw from U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

While speaking to members of the National Rifle Association on Friday, President Trump announced the United States is planning to withdraw from the Arms Trade Treaty, a United Nations agreement signed by former President Barack Obama in 2013, which regulates the $70 billion business in conventional arms with the goal of keeping weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers. Trump said the U.N. would soon receive a formal notice about the withdrawal. The NRA has reportedly long opposed the treaty. "We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedoms," the president told the crowd. Trump said the decision was a defense of "American Sovereignty." [Reuters, The White House]


New York archdiocese discloses 120 clergy members accused of abuse

Five deacons and 115 priests who have been accused of sexually abusing minors were identified by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York on Friday. The disclosure is one of the largest ever made by the Catholic Church. New York is just the latest in a series of dioceses across the United States that have revealed findings of internal investigations into the abuse crisis, which has continuously plagued the church. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, asked for forgiveness “for the failings of those clergy and bishops who should have provided for the safety of our young people but instead betrayed the trust placed in them.” The archdiocese of New York is one of the largest Catholic communities in the U.S., comprising of an estimated 2.8 million Catholics with nearly 300 parishes. [The New York Times]


Trump calls Mueller investigation an attempted 'coup'

President Trump spoke to members of the National Rifle Association on Friday and repeated a claim he made on Fox News' Hannity the night before — he described Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation as "an attempted overthrow of the United States government." During his Friday speech, he repeated his characterization of the investigation as a "coup," but said it "didn't work out so well" because "we caught them." Trump had told Fox News host Sean Hannity that the probe was "an attempted coup. Like a third-world country. Inconceivable," and said it was worse than the Watergate scandal. [Fox News, The Week]


Japan's Abe visits White House for trade-focused summit

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived at the White House on Friday for a two-day summit, focused on a second round of trade negotiations. Japan is looking for assurances that the U.S. won't impose new auto tariffs, while the U.S. is seeking to reduce its trade deficit and discuss agricultural trade. After an afternoon of bilateral meetings, Abe, his wife Akie Abe, and Trump made plans to celebrate first lady Melania Trump's birthday with a dinner on Friday evening. On Saturday, Trump and Abe are also scheduled to play a round of golf, reportedly seen as something of a win given Abe's efforts to flatter Trump and secure more face time and favorable treatment from the White House. [Bloomberg, The Washington Post]


Amazon reportedly developing high-definition music streaming service

Amazon is reportedly planning to add a high-fidelity streaming service to its music options, including Prime Music and Music Unlimited. While Amazon's existing music services compete with providers like Apple Music or Spotify, the new higher tier is expected to take on TIDAL. While TIDAL's high-def tier costs $19.99 per month, Amazon's new service will reportedly be around $15 per month. It's unclear how exactly Amazon will achieve its high-quality ambitions: TIDAL partners with music technology company MQA, The Verge reports, but Amazon apparently wants to move forward without such a partnership. Amazon is expected to launch its service before the end of 2019. [Music Business Worldwide]