Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 18, 2019

Harold Maass
Corey Lewandowski testifies
Alex Wong/Getty Images


Lewandowski mocks Democrats in contentious 1st impeachment hearing

President Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, clashed with Democrats, sometimes mocking them, in the House Judiciary Committee's first impeachment hearing on Tuesday. Lewandowski, following White House orders, declined to discuss conversations with Trump beyond what was in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. He did say Trump had told him to tell then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that Mueller's investigation was "very unfair" to Trump, but added that he didn't deliver the message and never thought Trump had "asked me to do anything illegal." Trump tweeted that the testimony by Lewandowski, who is considering a Senate bid, was "beautiful." House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called Lewandowski's behavior a "completely unacceptable" attempt to "obstruct the work of Congress." [The Washington Post, The Associated Press]


Israel election results too close to call

Israel's election results remained too close to call early Wednesday. Early results indicated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conservative Likud party and hard-line allies failed to win a parliamentary majority in the country's second national elections in five months, throwing his political future into doubt. Challenger Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party appeared essentially tied with Likud. With 42 percent of the vote counted by 9 a.m. local time, Likud had 28 percent and Blue and White won 27 percent. Gantz, a retired military chief, also was Netanyahu's rival in the last election. Netanyahu and his allies won that vote, but failed to cobble together a ruling coalition. Neither side is expected to control a majority this time, either. [The Associated Press, The Guardian]


Trump says homelessness hurts 'prestige' of nice buildings

President Trump stepped up his criticism of cities over homelessness during a trip to California, where he attended fundraisers. Trump said cities would "destroy themselves" if his administration doesn't help them tackle the problem. Trump said homeless people are living in "our best streets, our best entrances to buildings." "People in those buildings pay tremendous taxes where they went to those locations because of the prestige," he said. He added that he has spoken to foreign tenants who are considering leaving the U.S. because they now have "hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building." California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who has clashed with Trump, urged Trump to increase the value of housing vouchers and approve more of them under existing programs to help people struggling with rising rents. [NBC News]


Park service report: Border wall will hurt archaeological sites

Construction work on President Trump's border wall could damage or destroy as many as 22 archaeological sites in Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing an internal National Park Service report. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is trying to fast-track work on building a 30-foot steel barrier to replace the existing five-foot vehicle barrier. The work will require bulldozers and excavators that the National Park Service determined could irreparably damage unexcavated artifacts and other traces of ancient Sonoran Desert peoples. The push to do the work comes as Trump tries to fulfill a vow to finish 500 miles of his promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border by the 2020 election. [The Washington Post]


DOJ sues for Snowden book proceeds

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Edward Snowden, arguing that the publication of his memoir without prior approval violates the non-disclosure agreements he signed with the CIA and the National Security Agency. Snowden, a former NSA contractor, leaked classified information from the agency in 2013. The lawsuit aims to "recover the proceeds" from the sale of Snowden's book, not to prevent its publication or distribution. "Intelligence information should protect our nation, not provide personal profit," G. Zachary Terwilliger, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement. "This lawsuit will ensure that Edward Snowden receives no monetary benefits from breaching the trust placed in him." [NBC News, The Washington Post]


Abortion rate falls to lowest in 46 years

The U.S. abortion rate fell to a 46-year low in 2017, according to a report released Wednesday by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights but provides data cited by people on both sides of the abortion-rights issue. There were 13.5 abortions per 1,000 girls and women (ages 15 through 44) in 2017, down 20 percent from 16.9 in 2011, the institute reported. The rate dropped both in Republican- and Democratic-run states. Fifty-eight percent of the decline in overall abortions came in the 18 states and the District of Columbia where no new restrictions were added, but the rates dropped the most in four states that enacted safety standards that forced some clinics to close even though the regulations were overturned by the Supreme Court. [Los Angeles Times]


Biden, Warren extend polling lead following Democratic debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden held onto his frontrunner status following the most recent Democratic debate. He received the support of 31 percent of the primary voters responding in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday, up five percent from the outlets' July poll. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) gained six percent from July, earning 25 percent support. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was in third at 14 percent, up by 1 percent. Their gains in the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination seem to have come from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who hit 13 percent in July but is down to 5 percent now. But only 9 percent of respondents said they were definitely decided on which candidate they'd support. [NBC News]


EPA to revoke California auto emissions authority

The Trump administration on Wednesday is expected to revoke California's authority to impose tailpipe emissions rules that are tougher than federal ones. The Environmental Protection Agency announcement reportedly will come as President Trump travels in the state and attends fundraisers. The move will serve as a slap in the face to California's liberal leaders, who often spar with Trump, and at the same time continue his effort to roll back environmental regulations dating to the Obama administration. Xavier Becerra, California's attorney general, said the state would file a lawsuit to challenge Trump. "While the White House clings to the past, automakers and American families embrace cleaner cars," he wrote in an email, according to The New York Times. [The New York Times]


NBCUniversal reveals details on new streaming service

NBCUniversal on Tuesday announced new details of its upcoming streaming service, including what it's called: Peacock, a reference to the NBC logo. Peacock, launching in April 2020, is set to feature more than 15,000 hours of programming, including reboots of Battlestar Galactica, Punky Brewster, and Saved by the Bell. The service will also feature content outside of the NBC network, including movies from Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation. Peacock will also be the exclusive streaming home of The Office, which is set to leave Netflix, where it has been among the streamer's most popular offerings. This announcement comes a few weeks before Apple launches its new streaming service, Apple TV+, which will shortly be followed by Disney's service, Disney+. [The New York Times]


Pioneering journalist Cokie Roberts dies at 75

Broadcast journalist Cokie Roberts died Tuesday of complications from breast cancer, her family said in a statement. She was 75. Roberts became one of the most recognizable voices on NPR, joining when it started in 1978. She was part of a team of women journalists, along with Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer, and Susan Stamberg, who helped shape NPR and change journalism, which had few women in prominent roles at the time. Totenberg said on NPR that Roberts was "the personification of human decency." "Our newsroom is in tears," she said. "My phone and email are bursting with more tears. The country has lost a great journalist." Roberts later continued her coverage of Washington politics for ABC News. She also was a bestselling author. [NPR]