The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Cambridge Analytica to Shutter Operations

    They’re closing up shop. The embattled data firm announced it’s shutting down, just weeks after revelations that it dubiously accessed the personal data of 87 million Facebook users for its political clients — which included President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The scandal led to CEO Alexander Nix’s suspension in March, as well as sparked a heated public debate over the social media network’s handling of user information. In a statement, Cambridge Analytica says its clients were driven away by ”numerous unfounded accusations.” Meanwhile, Facebook said it’s continuing its own investigation into the breach.

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    Rudy Giuliani Says Trump Paid Back Lawyer for Stormy Daniels Hush Money

    Did he mean to say that? Trump’s latest legal team addition said in a Fox News interview that the president reimbursed his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen for $130,000 paid to an adult film star prior to the election. Trump had said he didn’t know of the payment while Cohen claimed he made the settlement on his own. Daniels has sued the president to void her nondisclosure deal. Meanwhile, Giuliani insisted her hush money should not be considered an undisclosed campaign contribution.

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    Trump Team Braces for Subpoena From Mueller

    “You are screwing with the work of the president of the United States.” That’s reportedly what lead lawyer John Dowd said during a March meeting when special counsel Robert Mueller broached the option of forcing President Trump to appear before a grand jury. Dowd has since resigned, saying his client wasn’t cooperating. Trump’s lawyers are still negotiating a possible voluntary interview, though they’ve expressed concerns that the president could perjure himself. Meanwhile, White House lawyer Ty Cobb — responsible for coordinating the administration’s involvement with the Mueller probe — has announced his retirement.

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    Fatalities Reported in Military Plane Crash

    At least two people are believed to have been killed when a C-130 cargo plane from the U.S. Air National Guard crashed near the Savannah, GA, airport today. Currently, there are conflicting reports as to exactly how many died, as well as how many passengers were on board the aircraft, which belonged to the Puerto Rico National Guard. A spokesman said the plane was heading to the U.S. mainland for a mission when it crashed, sending plumes of black smoke into the sky.

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    Facebook to Join Internet Dating Game

    But do you like like him? The company announced at its F8 conference yesterday that it’ll be entering the dating market, hot off the heels of a scandal involving misuse of customer data. Mark Zuckerberg said its new feature would help users find ”real long-term relationships” using information such as common interests and mutual friends to match people. “Their product could be great for US/Russia relationships,” said Joey Levin, CEO of the parent company that owns Tinder, and OkCupid, as his company’s stock fell 22 percent at the news.

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    World Watches Iran Deal After Netanyahu Presentation

    “Nobody wants a war in the region.” So said French President Emmanuel Macron, who told reporters that he doesn’t know if President Trump will recertify the Iran deal by the May 12 deadline. Macron said he pushed the issue during a recent state visit and his entreaties were received positively. Nuclear experts, however, are concerned that a presentation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trumpeting thousands of stolen secret documents could give Trump cover for rejecting the deal, which he’s long derided, despite the efforts of co-signatories in Europe.

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    Brexiteers Demand Rejection of Customs Union

    Despite studies showing that exiting the EU customs union will be economically disadvantageous for much of the U.K., a group of Brexit hardliners has delivered an ultimatum to Prime Minister Theresa May, arguing that the customs union will keep Britain from better trade deals elsewhere. Meanwhile, after the EU sought to bar British companies from accessing sensitive information from the Galileo satellite navigation project, U.K. officials are reportedly attempting to keep British encryption technology out of European hands. The U.K. has announced plans to launch its own satellite system.

  8. Gig Workers, Kanye West and Bezos’ Faux Pas

    Know This: A California court has accepted a broader definition of who qualifies as an employee, which could deal a blow to gig economy businesses like Uber and Lyft. Rapper Kanye West sparked outrage by saying that “400 years of slavery” may have been “a choice,” though he later argued that his comments had been misinterpreted. And infections from tick and mosquito bites are surging to “astronomical” numbers in the U.S., doctors say.

    He Said That: After Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in an interview that he has so much money the only way to spend it is on space travel, critics pointed out that many Amazon employees are paid so little they’re on food stamps and that Bezos’ fortune could make a huge difference for schools and communities on Earth.

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    Ex-Doctor, After Office ‘Raid,’ Says Trump Dictated Medical Report

    Dr. Harold Bornstein, formerly President Trump’s personal doctor, says the president dictated the glowing 2015 letter Bornstein presented, which said Trump would “unequivocally” be “the healthiest individual ever elected.” Trump cut ties with Bornstein after the doctor admitted to The New York Times that he prescribed the president Propecia, a drug to treat hair loss, in February 2017. Bornstein said his office was “raided” days later by the president’s personal bodyguard, who confiscated all of Trump’s files — an incident the White House said was “standard operating procedure.”

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    In Mali, Cyberactivists Turn to the Crowd

    They’re voting with their thumbs. Nearly everyone in Mali has a smartphone, and young would-be changemakers are creating their own online platforms to crowdsource ideas for improving the country’s health care, agriculture and national security. A 2012 coup turned Mali’s democratic gains around, but resistance to it has helped inspire people to envision what they want their country to be — and suggest ideas to make it a reality, through homegrown sites like Transformons le Mali. The next step will be getting politicians to support what the people want.

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    John McCain Pleads for Civility in New Memoir

    “We are secluding ourselves in ideological ghettos.” So writes the senior Republican senator in his upcoming memoir, The Restless Wave. The former presidential candidate calls for greater humility in politics, criticizing both President Trump and the broader political landscape for today’s bitter divisions. McCain, who’s currently battling brain cancer, admits he’s made mistakes in his own career. But he also calls on voters to be more discerning and demand more from their representatives — and to be proactive about voting them out of office when they fail to deliver.

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    ‘SpongeBob’ and ‘Mean Girls’ Lead Tony Nominations

    And not a Founding Father in sight. Musical adaptations of an animated kids’ TV show and a 2004 teen film snagged the most nominations with a dozen each, while a revival of Angels in America and the two-part Harry Potter and the Cursed Child led the field for non-musicals. While not all awards have much impact on the life of a Broadway show, a recent study found winning best musical or best play can significantly extend a show’s run. The Tony Awards will be held June 10. 

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    Brazilian Gymnastics Rocked by Abuse Scandal

    Forty male gymnasts in Brazil have come forward to say their coach, Fernando de Carvalho Lopes, sexually abused them when they were minors. Lopes was fired after a report on the abuse aired Sunday, but he’d been on administrative duty — and not in contact with gymnasts — since shortly before the 2016 Rio Olympics, when a 13-year-old boy lodged the first formal complaint against him. Other gymnasts have since come forward describing brutal hazing rituals initiated by Lopes, and accusing other officials of knowing about them but not intervening.