Daily Briefing

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

Harold Maass
Trump in the Rose Garden
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


Trump cuts short infrastructure meeting with leading Democrats

President Trump ended an infrastructure meeting with Democratic congressional leaders after just a few minutes on Wednesday, saying he would not cooperate with them until they end congressional investigations into his finances, possible attempts to obstruct justice, and other matters. Trump called on Democrats to finish "these phony investigations," and lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for accusing him of a "cover-up." Pelosi made the comment shortly before she arrived at the White House, after a meeting with Democrats where she continued to resist mounting pressure to start impeachment proceedings against Trump. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said they had gone to the White House ready to make a deal on a $2 trillion plan to rebuild roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. [The New York Times]


Theresa May faces mounting pressure to quit in Brexit backlash

British Prime Minister Theresa May faced mounting calls to resign in a backlash against her latest Brexit plan, and multiple reports indicated she could step down as soon as Friday. The resignation of the leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, on Wednesday night appeared to have left May with no way forward. Leadsom was scheduled to introduce May's new Brexit plan on Thursday but she said she could not support it because it could pave the way for a second referendum on whether the U.K. should leave the European Union at all, which she said would be "dangerously divisive." The turmoil came as the European Union starts parliamentary elections that could see far-right populists and EU skeptics expand their power. [Business Insider, USA Today]


N.Y. lawmakers approve bill that would let Congress see Trump state tax returns

New York state lawmakers on Wednesday gave final approval to legislation that will let the state's Department of Taxation and Finance release the state tax returns of public officials, including President Trump. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is expected to sign the bill. Existing laws generally prohibit the agency from releasing the returns. Now congressional panels that supervise tax legislation, including the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation, will have the option of requesting state tax documents if the Treasury Department successfully defies a request for Trump's federal returns. "Secrecy in government breeds corruption," Thomas Abinanti, a Democratic assemblyman, said before the vote, adding that Trump had "intentionally and publicly thwarted the legitimate and necessary oversight of Congress." [NBC News]


Judge rules subpoena for Trump's Deutsche Bank records can proceed

A federal judge in Manhattan on Wednesday rejected President Trump's request to block a House subpoena of his financial records from four banks. The House Financial Services and Intelligence committees subpoenaed Capital One and Deutsche Bank in April. Trump, his businesses, and family sued to block the subpoena. The judge acknowledged that Congress' subpoenas were broad, but said they were "clearly pertinent" to the committees' work. This is the second subpoena victory Democrats have scored this week, coming a day after a judge in Washington, D.C., ruled Trump could not block a subpoena of his accounting firm for other financial records. Trump's lawyers appealed the Tuesday decision and will likely appeal Wednesday's as well. Deutsche Bank has said it "would comply with whatever the court ultimately decided." [CNN, The New York Times]


John Walker Lindh, the 'American Taliban,' being released from prison

John Walker Lindh, widely known as the "American Taliban," was scheduled to be released on probation Thursday after serving 17 years of a 20-year prison term. Lindh, now 38, converted to Islam from Catholicism as a teenager and traveled overseas to study Arabic and the Quran. He joined the Taliban by the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and was still in Afghanistan when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, which had refused to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Lindh was present when Taliban fighters staged an attack that killed CIA officer Johnny Michael Spann and was captured in 2001 during the invasion of Afghanistan, when he was 21. Critics expressed concern about his release due to reports that he still supports global jihad. [The Associated Press]


Proposed HUD rule change would scrap protections for homeless transgender people

The Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday proposed changing an Obama-era rule that protected homeless transgender people. The change would let federally funded shelters deny transgender people admission on religious grounds. The facilities also could make transgender women share bathrooms and sleeping quarters with men. The proposal came the day after HUD Secretary Ben Carson testified at a congressional hearing that HUD had no plans to scrap the 2012 Equal Access Rule prohibiting federal housing discrimination due to sexual orientation or gender identity. "I'm not currently anticipating changing the rule," Carson said under questioning by Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.). [The Washington Post]


Early results show India's Modi winning second term in landslide

Early results from India's national election indicated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had won a second term in a landslide for his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies. With more than 30 percent of the votes counted, official results from the Election Commission showed the BJP leading in 292 seats, topping the 272 seats needed for a parliamentary majority. The lead could shift, but if the number holds, Modi's party will win more seats than it did when Modi came to power in 2014. India's stock market surged to a record high on expectations of a second term for Modi's business-friendly government, a center-right coalition known for its embrace of Hindu nationalism. [The Washington Post, CNN]


Avenatti accused of stealing from Stormy Daniels

Federal prosecutors in New York City on Wednesday charged Michael Avenatti with diverting $300,000 that his former client, porn star Stormy Daniels, was supposed to get for a book deal, and using it for his own expenses. Avenatti represented Daniels in her legal fight with President Trump over a hush money payment related to her claim that she had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago, which Trump denies. Avenatti tweeted that he never "misappropriated or mishandled" Daniels' money, adding later that his agreement for representing her "included a percentage of any book proceeds." In a separate case, Avenatti was charged with trying to extort as much as $25 million from Nike by threatening to expose alleged payments to steer star athletes to colleges Nike sponsored. [The Associated Press]


Tornado hits Missouri capital as violent storms kill 3

A powerful tornado hit Jefferson City, Missouri, late Wednesday, causing heavy damage in the state capital as violent weather swept through the state. Missouri Public Safety confirmed via Twitter that three deaths occurred in Golden City, although no deaths were reported in the capital. "Across the state, Missouri's first responders once again responded quickly and with strong coordination as much of the state dealt with extremely dangerous conditions that left people injured, trapped in homes, and tragically led to the death of three people," Governor Mike Parson said. The violent weather came after several days of tornadoes and flooding in parts of the Southern Plains and Midwest. [The Associated Press]


Study says rising sea levels could displace 200 million people by 2100

A new study warns that if nothing is done to curb carbon emissions, sea levels could rise by more than six feet by the end of the century, flooding major cities — including Shanghai, Miami, and Mumbai – and displacing about 200 million people. As the Earth gets warmer, ice sheets are melting faster than previously predicted, the study's scientists said. Co-author Robert Kopp, director of the Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Studies at Rutgers University, told NBC News there are many uncertainties when it comes to the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. The worst case scenario would be a temperature increase of 9 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, which is "consistent with unchecked emissions growth," Kopp said. [NBC News]