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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 12, 2019

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Harold Maass
Joe Biden in Iowa
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1.

House votes to take Barr, McGahn subpoenas to court

The Democrat-controlled House on Tuesday voted take Attorney General William Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn to federal court over their noncompliance with House subpoenas for testimony and documents related to the Russia investigation. "We're here in a fight for the soul of our democracy, and we will use every single tool that is available to us to hold this administration accountable," said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The vote also empowered House committees to take the administration to court more quickly in future disputes. The oversight panel is also expected Wednesday to consider recommending holding Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress in connection with an investigation into adding a question on citizenship to the 2020 census. [The New York Times]

2.

Trump, Biden clash in dueling Iowa appearances

President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden traded sharp criticism Tuesday in appearances in early-voting Iowa. Trump said Biden had only jumped to a big polling lead over his rivals for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination by criticizing the president. "People don't respect him," Trump said. "He makes his stance in Iowa once every two weeks and then he mentions my name 74 times in one speech." Biden said Trump appears "really fascinated by me." He also called Trump "an existential threat to America." A newly released Quinnipiac University poll showed Biden leading Trump 53 percent to 40 percent head-to-head nationwide. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) led Trump by 9, 8, and 7 percentage points, respectively. [The Associated Press, The Hill]

3.

Hong Kong lawmakers delay extradition bill debate as protests resume

Lawmakers in Hong Kong on Wednesday postponed a scheduled debate on an extradition bill after tens of thousands of demonstrators stormed a road near government offices. The demonstrators gathered peacefully outside the Chinese-ruled city's legislature before chaos erupted. Some protesters charged police with umbrellas. Officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the crowd. Opposition to the bill, which would let authorities send suspects for trials in mainland China, triggered a massive protest last weekend described as the biggest political demonstration since the Asian financial hub was transferred from British to Chinese rule in 1997. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has dismissed calls to resign and vowed to continue pressing forward with the legislation.

4.

Trump says he 'wouldn't let' CIA use member of Kim Jong Un's family as asset

President Trump, speaking after a report that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's slain half-brother worked for the CIA, said Tuesday that he "wouldn't let" intelligence agencies recruit members of Kim's family to get intelligence information. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Kim's half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, had traveled to Malaysia to meet a CIA contact before he was assassinated at a Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017. Trump's remark came as he continued to praise Kim Jong Un despite the breakdown in their talks on denuclearization, saying he "just received a beautiful letter" from the North Korean leader. Trump said he believed Kim was honoring his promise to halt nuclear weapons and long-range missile tests, although some top Trump administration officials disagree. [The Associated Press]

5.

Report: Donald Trump Jr. strikes deal to testify in private Senate hearing

Donald Trump Jr. is expected to appear in a private hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, after striking an agreement that ended a public and contentious fight, CNN reported Tuesday, citing a source familiar with the deal. The Republican-led committee issued a subpoena for Trump Jr. to appear, but he resisted talking to the committee for a second time. Supporters of Trump Jr., President Trump's eldest son, had lashed out at the panel's chair, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and accused him of playing into the hands of Democrats. Burr held firm and Trump Jr. ultimately agreed to talk to committee members for up to four hours behind closed doors. The topics will include a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, and the now-defunct Trump Tower Moscow project. [CNN]

6.

Jon Stewart scolds Congress at 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund hearing

Comedian Jon Stewart on Tuesday lashed out at members of Congress for failing to ensure ongoing funding for a 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and for failing to show up for a hearing on the matter. Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, pointed to "sick and dying" first responders sitting behind him who had traveled to Washington for the hearing, only to find most of the panel's members were absent. Stewart, a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders, called the situation "an embarrassment to the country and a stain on this institution." He also said it was disrespectful to the first responders, many of them now suffering from respiratory ailments and other health problems. Several lawmakers said they meant no disrespect and expected the bill to pass. [The Associated Press]

7.

10 states sue to stop T-Mobile, Sprint merger

Ten states filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to block the proposed $26.5 billion merger between mobile-phone carriers Sprint and T-Mobile. The states, which include New York and California, argue that the merger would hurt competition and result in higher cellphone bills. They said even slight rate hikes would hurt lower-income communities, and that folding together the two companies would lead to a "substantial loss" of jobs in the industry. The deal also faces possible opposition from regulators who might demand changes to the proposal before approving the merger. The companies did not comment immediately. Sprint shares dropped by 6.2 percent on Tuesday, while those of T-Mobile fell 1.4 percent. [Engadget, Reuters]

8.

Trump vows to delay trade deal until China accepts old terms

President Trump on Tuesday said he would hold off on a trade deal with China until it accepts terms it had agreed to before backtracking. "We had a deal with China and unless they go back to that deal, I have no interest," Trump said. "China wants to make a deal very badly," Trump added. "It is me right now that is holding up the deal. And we're going to either do a great deal with China or we're not going to do a deal." He did not elaborate on the sticking points. A day earlier, Trump repeated a threat to raise tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports unless President Xi Jinping meets with him at the late-June G-20 summit in Japan. [MarketWatch]

9.

Jury deadlocks in trial of Arizona border activist who helped migrants

An Arizona jury deadlocked Tuesday in the trial of a border activist, Scott Daniel Warren, charged with conspiracy to transport and harbor migrants. Attorneys for Warren, a 36-year-old college geography instructor, argued that he was simply being kind by giving the two men food, water, and lodging. Prosecutors said the migrants were not in danger, and that Warren had conspired to harbor them at a property near the U.S.-Mexico border that had been used to provide safe haven for undocumented migrants. Warren thanked supporters outside the courthouse and said it remained "as necessary as ever for local residents and humanitarian aid volunteers to stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees." Prosecutors declined to say whether Warren would face a new trial. [The Associated Press]

10.

U.S. women's soccer earns biggest Women's World Cup victory of all time

The U.S. women's soccer team secured the most lopsided victory of all time in a Women's World Cup game on Tuesday, beating Thailand 13-0 in America's first game of the tournament. Team captain Alex Morgan scored the first goal 12 minutes into the match, then added four more later on. This matches her with Michelle Akers as the only players to score five goals in a single Women's World Cup game. The U.S. came into the tournament at first place in FIFA's rankings, putting the team atop betting odds and earning them a 24 percent chance of winning the cup from FiveThirtyEight. Tournament host France is meanwhile just behind the U.S. on FiveThirtyEight's rankings, with Germany, the Netherlands, and England far further behind. [ESPN, FiveThirtyEight]