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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 19, 2019

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Tim O'Donnell
Donald Trump.
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1.

'Pro-life' Trump says he supports abortion exceptions for rape, incest, and mothers' health

President Trump on Saturday night tweeted that he is "strongly pro-life," but, like former President Ronald Reagan, supports three exceptions for abortions — rape, incest, and when it is necessary to protect the life of the mother. The tweet comes just days after Alabama's state legislature passed a near-total ban on abortion, which does not allow any exceptions for rape or incest. The governors of Missouri and Georgia signed their own restrictive abortion bills last week, as well, as part of a movement to overturn Roe V. Wade. This is the first time Trump has publicly commented on the recent wave of abortion laws. [USA Today, Donald Trump]

2.

Michigan congressman becomes first GOP lawmaker to back impeachment

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on Saturday became the first Republican to openly call for the impeachment of President Trump. The congressman tweeted that he came to the conclusion following the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on his investigation into 2016 Russian election interference. While Mueller's team found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow, Amash believes Trump has still "engaged in impeachable conduct." He also said he believes Attorney General William Barr "deliberately misrepresented" Mueller's report. Amash's fellow Michigan representative, Rashida Tlaib (D), has reportedly asked Amash to cosponsor an impeachment investigation resolution. [BBC, Justin Amash]

3.

Sanders wants moratorium on charter school funding

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidate, unveiled a 10-point education policy plan on Saturday during a speech in South Carolina. Sanders' proposal would put a halt to public funding for charter schools, at least until the completion of a national audit on such schools, which have become a "polarizing" topic in America. Sanders would also attempt to implement a ban on for-profit charter schools, which make up 15 percent of all charter schools. His reasoning is that charter schools can often "drain" communities of already limited resources, hurting traditional public schools in the process and leading to unofficial school segregation. Amy Wilkins, the senior vice president of advocacy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, called Sanders' plan "the opposite of the spirit" of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. [HuffPost, Vox]

4.

Trump administration identifies more than 1,700 migrant children separated from their parents

The Trump administration has reportedly identified at least 1,712 migrant children who were separated from their parents at the southern border, court transcripts from a Friday hearing revealed. Those children are in addition to the 2,800 children who were separated as a result of the White House's "zero tolerance policy." In March, a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to identify within six months children who were separated from their families before the zero tolerance policy went into effect. Thousands of more children may still be identified, NBC News reports. So far, the government reviewed the files of 4,108 children out of 50,000 cases. [NBC News, The Week]

5.

Liberal-National Coalition declares surprise victory in Australian elections

Australia's governing Liberal-National Coalition defied predictions on Saturday to win the country's federal elections, defeating presumptive favorite Labor. With 76 percent of the votes in, the Coalition has won — or is ahead in — 75 seats. The Coalition needs 76 to form a majority government for center-right Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The victory comes as a shock in light of most pre-election opinion polling, which largely pointed to a narrow victory for Labor and its leader, Bill Shorten, who announced he would resign after accepting defeat. Members of the Labor party have blamed a combination of Shorten's unpopularity and the party's controversial tax agenda for the outcome. [BBC, The Guardian]

6.

Indian elections wrap up voting

Voting in India's seven-phase elections finally came to an end on Sunday, though the count will not be made official until Thursday. The nation-wide process took six weeks to complete, with nearly 100 million eligible voters going to the polls in 59 constituencies across seven states on Sunday alone. Around 900 million voters are expected to have participated overall. The elections are reportedly widely seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's five-year term. His party is expected to lose seats because of "deepening concerns" about India's economy and accusations that Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party's "Hindu-first creed" has put Muslims and other minorities at risk. Still, Modi carries a hefy amount of support, which could allow him to maintain office and a majority government. [Al Jazeera, New York Times]

7.

Saudi Arabia hopes to avoid war with Iran, but will respond with 'all force and determination'

Saudi Arabia became the latest country to openly proclaim an aversion to warfare with Iran. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Abdel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia does not want or seek war with Iran, but if Iran strikes first, "the kingdom will respond with all force and determination" to defend itself. Riyadh has accused Tehran of ordering drone strikes on two Saudi Arabian oil pumping stations on Tuesday, though Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group claimed responsibility and Iran has denied involvement. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman reportedly recently discussed strengthening security and stability in the Gulf region with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "The ball is in their court," Jubeir said, referring to Iran. [Reuters]

8.

Biden calls for bipartisan unity at Philadelphia rally

During a campaign rally in Philadelphia, former Vice President Joe Biden, who recently launched his 2020 presidential bid and immediately became one of the Democratic favorites, called for biparistan unity. The Associated Press writes the speech seemed like it was aimed more directly toward a general election than the Democratic primaries. Biden dismissed the idea that Democrats have to nominate someone who can tap into the party's anti-Trump anger. "I believe Democrats want to unify this nation," he said. "That's what the party's always been about." The crowd in Philadelphia reportedly numbered in the thousands, though not everyone there had comitted to supporting Biden. "I want agressive change," one attendee said. "I don't want middle of the road." [The Associated Press, Vox]

9.

War of Will wins Preakness

War of Will, ridden by jockey Tyler Gaffalione, won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday in Baltimore. There was no controversy over the winner in the second leg of the Triple Crown, after a dramatic turn of events that occurred two weeks ago at the Kentucky Derby resulted in a disqualification. For the first time in 23 years, the Derby winner did not participate in the Preakness. Still, the Preakness had its surprises. Most notably, one of the entrants, Bodexpress tossed jockey John Velazquez out of the gate and continued on riderless for the rest of the race. The race may also have been the penultimate Preakness in Baltimore, as it will possibly move to Laurel Park, Maryland, in 2021. War of Will is expected to run in the Belmont Stakes on June 8. [The Washington Post, Sports Illustrated]

10.

Game of Thrones series finale to air Sunday evening

Fans will say farewell to HBO's Game of Thrones on Sunday night when the series finale airs on the network at 9 p.m. The show, based off fantasy writer George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels, debuted in 2011 and quickly became a cultural phenomenon. While Sunday night will be the last time beloved characters such as Arya Stark, Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen appear on screen, Martin's world will not be gone for long. HBO has as many as five series' based off the Song of Ice and Fire universe in the works, one of which has reportedly already begun filming. [Polygon, Vulture]