Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 22, 2019

Harold Maass
Robert Mueller in Washington
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

1.

Puerto Rico's embattled governor won't seek re-election

After days of protests demanding his resignation, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Sunday that he would not run for re-election next year. However, he said he planned to finish his current term, defying calls to step down over leaked text messages between him and top aides that critics have called homophobic and misogynistic. "A large portion of the population is unhappy and I recognize it," Rosselló said Sunday on Facebook Live. "I've heard you ... Today I have the responsibility to direct my strengths to try to find alternatives so that with God we may be able to move forward." Political analysts said Rossello's announcement was unlikely to satisfy protesters who plan to return to the streets Monday demanding his immediate resignation. [NPR]

2.

Nadler: Mueller hearing will air 'very substantial evidence' of Trump crimes

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's testimony to Congress on Wednesday will provide a thorough public airing of "very substantial evidence" that President Trump committed potential crimes. "This is a president who has violated the law six ways from Sunday," Nadler said on Fox News Sunday. "We have to present — or let Mueller present — those facts to the American people." Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the Judiciary Committee's ranking Republican, said Mueller's appearance will provide GOP lawmakers a chance to correct mistaken impressions about Mueller's "one-sided" report on Russian election meddling and possible obstruction of justice by Trump. "It has not been questioned from the other side. This is our chance to do that," Collins told Fox News. [The Associated Press]

3.

Masked men, police clash with Hong Kong protesters

Masked men attacked anti-government protesters in Hong Kong at a train station late Sunday, hitting them with sticks. Elsewhere in the city, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters after some people vandalized the Chinese government's liaison office in the city, marking an overt challenge to China's authority over the financial hub. The clashes came after a peaceful march earlier in the day calling for an independent investigation into alleged police brutality in earlier protests. Organizers said 430,000 people participated in the sanctioned part of Sunday's demonstration; police put the figure at 138,000. A series of mass protests started last month against a proposal to allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China, where the governing Communist Party controls the courts. The bill has been suspended but protesters want it fully withdrawn. [The New York Times]

4.

Trump continues attacks on Democrats in progressive 'squad'

President Trump on Sunday continued his attacks on four minority Democratic congresswomen he has said should "go back" to the countries their families came from if they don't like the way things are in the U.S. "I don't believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country," Trump tweeted. "They should apologize to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said." The four first-term lawmakers — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) — are known as "the squad." They have been highly critical of Trump's policies but also have clashed with the Democratic leadership in the House. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chair of the House Oversight Committee, said Trump's attacks left him with "no doubt" the president is racist. [Reuters]

5.

China investment in U.S. dives

Chinese investment in the U.S. has plunged by nearly 90 percent since President Trump took office as a trade war has eroded trust between the world's two largest economies, The New York Times reported Sunday. The decline is due to tougher regulations and skepticism about Chinese investment in the U.S., and tighter limits on foreign spending imposed by Beijing. "The fact that the foreign direct investment has fallen so sharply is symbolic of how badly the economic relationship between the United States and China has deteriorated," said Eswar Prasad, former head of the International Monetary Fund's China division. "The U.S. doesn't trust the Chinese, and China doesn't trust the U.S." Industries feeling the pinch include everything from Silicon Valley startups to Manhattan real estate. [The New York Times]

6.

Contaminated alcohol kills 19 in Costa Rica in June

At least 19 people died in Costa Rica last month after drinking tainted alcohol, the Central American nation's Ministry of Health said Sunday. The victims — 14 men and five women — all appeared to have died of methanol poisoning, The Tico Times, a local newspaper, reported. The victims were aged 32 to 72, but their identities were not immediately released. The health ministry issued a warning against consuming several brands of alcohol, including Guaro Montano, Guaro Gran Apache, Aguardiente Estrella, Aguardiente Barón Rojo, Aguardiente Timbuka, and Molotov Aguardiente. The government confiscated more than 30,000 bottles of alcohol under suspicion of contamination. Trace amounts of methanol are common in liquors, but counterfeit alcohol spiked with higher concentrations of methanol can be deadly. [New York Post]

7.

Venezuelan fighter jet 'aggressively shadowed' U.S. Navy plane

The U.S. Southern Command announced Sunday that a Venezuelan fighter aircraft on Friday made an "unsafe approach" to a U.S. Navy aircraft in international airspace, "endangering the safety of the crew and jeopardizing" its mission. The Navy aircraft, an EP-3 Aries II, was conducting a "detection and monitoring" mission over the Caribbean Sea when the incident took place. Southern Command said it reviewed video that showed Venezuela's "Russian-made fighter aggressively shadowed the EP-3 at an unsafe distance in international airspace for a prolonged period of time." Venezuela's military has since accused the Navy plane of violating "security of air operations and international treaties." Venezuela also claims that in 2019, more than 76 U.S. aircraft have tried to enter the country's airspace. [CNN]

8.

Trump administration pauses enforcement of anti-abortion rule

The Trump administration sent a notice over the weekend telling taxpayer-funded family planning clinics they would have more time to comply with a new rule barring them from referring women for abortions. A notice sent Saturday night from the Department of Health and Human Services told clinic administrators the administration won't bring enforcement actions against facilities making "good-faith efforts to comply." In a statement released Sunday, the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, which represents clinics in a lawsuit seeking to block the restrictions, called the pause "wholly insufficient." Clare Coleman, the group's president, said the administration's failure to provide clear guidance for clinics will let the government "start a game of 'gotcha'" that could hurt clinics providing basic health services for low-income women. [The Associated Press]

9.

Cold front brings relief after deadly U.S. heat wave

A deadly heat wave continued to punish the East Coast and Midwest with high temperatures on Sunday. Relief was expected on Monday, however, thanks to an incoming cold front. The heat index rose into the 90s in much of the Midwest, and exceeded 100 on much of the East Coast. Washington posted the highest feels-like temperature, at 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature reached a record 100 degrees for the day in Atlantic City, New Jersey, with similar highs recorded at New York's John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, tying records. The heat wave claimed at least two lives over several days. Former NFL player Mitch Petrus, 32, died of a heat stroke after working outside in Arkansas on Thursday, and a woman hiking in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., died Saturday. [CNN]

10.

Avengers: Endgame becomes highest-grossing film ever

Avengers: Endgame officially passed Avatar at the worldwide box office over the weekend to become the highest-grossing film in history. The Marvel superhero film surpassed $2.790 billion by Sunday, Disney said, topping Avatar's previous record of $2.789 billion. This is the first time the highest-grossing film worldwide unadjusted for inflation has been a movie not directed by James Cameron since before 1998's Titanic. The milestone for Endgame comes nearly three months after it landed in theaters with a mind-blowing domestic opening weekend of $357 million and a global opening weekend of $1.2 billion. Another Disney film, the live-action remake of The Lion King, dominated the weekend's domestic box office with the biggest domestic opening ever for a Disney remake. [The Hollywood Reporter, The Associated Press]