Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 13, 2019

Harold Maass
Trump in the Roosevelt Room
Mark Wilson/Getty Images


House panel recommends holding Barr, Ross in contempt

The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday voted to recommend holding Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas for information regarding the controversial proposal to add a question on respondents' citizenship to the 2020 census. Earlier in the day, the Department of Justice sent a letter to Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) saying that President Trump would assert executive privilege to shield materials on the matter from investigation. Democrats said they wanted to get to the bottom of evidence suggesting the Trump administration added the question to intimidate minority and immigrant communities. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) called the push for contempt charges "another act of political theater." [The Washington Post, Politico]


Trump says he'd take dirt on 2020 rivals from foreign governments

President Trump said Wednesday in an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos that if foreign governments offered dirt on his 2020 rivals, "I think I'd take it." Trump added: "There isn't anything wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] 'we have information on your opponent' — oh, I think I'd want to hear it." Trump also said he might not alert the FBI, but might "if I thought there was something wrong." The comments came despite numerous investigations into his campaign associates' contacts with Russians during Moscow's efforts to influence the 2016 election. Democrats running to challenge Trump in 2020 slammed him for the remarks, calling Trump "disgraceful" and a "national security threat." [ABC News, The Washington Post]


Ex-Stanford sailing coach gets 1-day sentence in admissions scandal

U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel on Wednesday sentenced former Stanford University sailing coach John Vandemoer to one day in prison for his role in the nation's college admissions scandal, in which wealthy parents allegedly paid hefty sums for various forms of help getting their children into elite colleges. Vandemoer was deemed to have served his time already, so the decision meant he'll get no additional time in prison. He'll have to serve two years' probation, the first six months in home confinement. Vandemoer was the first of the 50 coaches involved in the scandal to be sentenced. In addition to rigging entrance exams and making false claims on applications, some of the parents paid to have their kids admitted as recruited athletes in sports they didn't play. [Los Angeles Times]


Illinois governor signs law protecting abortion rights

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) on Wednesday signed a bill offering sweeping protections for abortion rights he called the "most progressive" in the nation. The move came after several states, including Missouri, Alabama, and Georgia, recently passed and signed restrictive abortion laws. "In a time when too many states are taking a step backward, Illinois is taking a giant step forward for women's health," Pritzker said in a statement. The law, the Reproductive Health Act, takes effect immediately. It legally establishes that a "fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights." The legislation also scraps a 1975 state law that penalized doctors for performing "unnecessary" abortions. [The Hill]


Donald Trump Jr. 'not at all' worried after Senate testimony

Donald Trump Jr. said Wednesday, the day of his closed-door testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, that he was "not at all" worried he would be charged with perjury for statements he previously made to Congress. Trump Jr. spent about three hours answering questions from the panel under its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Committee members reportedly asked him about his involvement in a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, who was his father's Democratic opponent. Trump Jr. said everything he had to say was consistent with what he said the first time he testified, and "there was nothing to change." [The Washington Post]


Hope Hicks reportedly agrees to testify to House committee

Hope Hicks, President Trump's former aide and one-time White House communications director, has agreed to testify privately before the House Judiciary Committee next Wednesday, The Washington Post reported, citing two sources with knowledge of the arrangement. The panel reportedly plans to question Hicks on her work in the White House and on Trump's 2016 campaign. She will be the first former Trump aide to testify for the committee's investigation into whether Trump tried to obstruct Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into 2016 Russian election interference. The White House, which reportedly instructed Hicks not to comply with a congressional subpoena for documents related to her White House work, could assert executive privilege to prevent her from answering certain questions. [The Washington Post]


Runner Gabriele Grunewald dies at 32 after cancer fight

American middle-distance runner Gabriele Grunewald has died following a long and public fight with cancer. She was 32. Grunewald was first diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in her salivary gland a decade ago. A thyroid cancer diagnosis followed a year later. Grunewald, an NCAA All-American at Minnesota and Olympic hopeful, continued to compete as she battled cancer. She won the U.S. indoor championship in the 3,000 meters in 2014, and built up a large social media following as she posted updates on her health. She also started the non-profit Brave Like Gabe to raise money for cancer research. "Being brave, for me, means not giving up on the things that make me feel alive," she wrote on the organization's website. [USA Today]


North Carolina man pleads guilty to killing 3 Muslim students

A North Carolina man, Craig Stephen Hicks, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to fatally shooting three Muslim university students in 2015. Hicks, 50, said he snapped after an argument with the students — newly married Deah Barakat, 23, and Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her 19-year-old sister Razan Abu-Salha — over parking spaces outside their apartment complex. Relatives of the victims dismissed his explanation, saying he targeted them because of their religion. The women's father, Mohamed Abu-Salha, said the killings were part of rising bigotry against Muslims. Family members and prosecutors said Hicks had flashed a handgun to intimidate a Korean neighbor and a black remodeling worker, too. Relatives of the victims have asked federal authorities to charge Hicks with hate crimes. [The Associated Press]


Warriors star Kevin Durant confirms ruptured Achilles tendon

Golden State Warriors star forward Kevin Durant confirmed Wednesday that the injury he sustained in the first half of Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto on Monday was a ruptured Achilles tendon. Durant said via Instagram that surgery to repair the tendon was successful, and he had started his recovery. The injury came after team doctors told Durant it was safe for him to return to the basketball court after being sidelined by a calf injury in the same leg. The Warriors held on to win Game 5, and they now trail the Toronto Raptors 3 games to 2 in the best-of-seven series. Durant was set to cash in on a hefty free agent contract this offseason. It's unclear how his injury will affect his next move. [ESPN, Kevin Durant]


Blues beat Bruins to claim their 1st Stanley Cup

The St. Louis Blues beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to win the first National Hockey League championship in their 52-year history. Ryan O'Reilly and Alex Pietrangelo scored in the first period. Brayden Schenn added a goal in the third and Zach Sanford scored another with 4:38 left. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington stopped 32 shots before the Bruins scored with 2:10 to play. The Blues made an unprecedented comeback this year, going from having the fewest points in the NHL on Jan. 3 to dominating the season's second half. They also had set a record for most games played without winning a Stanley Cup. "You dream of this for so long," O'Reilly said. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]