10 things you need to know today: March 23, 2019


Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his 675-day investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential involvement with Russian election interference, and has submitted a confidential report to Attorney General William Barr. Barr notified Congress that he may advise members on Mueller’s conclusions “as soon as this weekend” and will soon determine how much of the information can be released to the public. Mueller will not recommend any further indictments, a senior Justice Department official told ABC News and The Washington Post. The investigation spanned nearly two years and led to criminal charges against more than 30 people. [NBC News, The Washington Post]


The White House said on Friday that the Islamic State has been completely eradicated in Syria. “The territorial caliphate has been eliminated in Syria,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. She said U.S.-backed forces had defeated ISIS’ final foothold in the country, more than four years after the U.S. launched its first airstrikes against the militant group. President Trump said in December “we have defeated ISIS in Syria,” and announced that all U.S. troops would come home, only to backpedal and announce plans to leave several hundred troops in former ISIS strongholds. Sanders said on Friday that the Pentagon “made the call” to declare ISIS defeated. The U.S.-backed forces also declared victory on Saturday. [The Washington Post, The Associated Press]


President Trump on Friday tweeted that he has “ordered the withdrawal” of additional sanctions on North Korea. Though he did not specify which sanctions he would reverse, the Treasury Department said Thursday it would sanction Chinese shipping companies that allegedly helped North Korea to evade international sanctions. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called the move “crucial” in the effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and said the companies “routinely used deceptive practices” to help North Korean officials buy goods from the EU. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump “likes Chairman Kim [Jong Un] and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.” [Donald J. Trump, The Washington Examiner]


The Federal Emergency Management Agency shared private data, including banking information, of millions of hurricane and wildfire survivors, The Department of Homeland Security inspector general said on Friday. The unlawful disclosure places the survivors at “increased risk of identity theft and fraud.” The data was shared with an unidentified federal contractor that was helping 2.3 million survivors from Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria and the 2017 California wildfires find housing. It included 20 “unnecessary” fields such as electronic funds transfer numbers, bank transit numbers, and addresses. FEMA said it has already begun filtering the data to ensure it cannot be shared, and the organization has said that there is so far no indication that the information has been compromised. [CNN, The New York Times]


The manifesto believed to be written by Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian who has been charged with the murder of 50 people during mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand last week, is now illegal in the country, New Zealand’s Office of Film and Literature Classification announced on Saturday. The manifesto, which is more than 80 pages long, is rife with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim content. It was made public online before the shootings occurred. “It crosses the line,” New Zealand’s Chief Censor David Shanks said. The decision follows another one made earlier this week which banned footage of the shootings, including edited clips and still images. [CNN, The New Zealand Herald]


United Airlines announced on Friday that customers can now choose non-binary gender options, making it the first U.S. airline to provide the expanded choices. Customers will be able to choose the prefix “Mx.” during bookings, and they’ll have the option of identifying as male, female, undisclosed or unspecified. The airline says it has been working with the Human Rights Campaign and The Trevor Project in training employees on the new changes. Two trade groups approved a new best-practices standard last month that suggested allowing airplane passengers to use non-binary identifiers, and several large airlines have said they plan to adopt the changes in the future. [United Airlines, USA Today]


A jury found an East Pittsburgh police officer not guilty on all counts after he was tried for the killing of Antwon Rose, an unarmed black 17-year-old, last June. The officer, Michael Rosfield, who is white, shot Rose three times after the teenager ran from a traffic stop. Rosfield said that Rose was in a car that matched the description of one involved in a drive-by shooting 20 minutes prior to the traffic stop. Crowds gathered in protest over the jury’s decision outside of the Allegheny County on Friday evening. [CNN, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]


San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, an outspoken critic of the Trump administration’s response to a hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, announced she will run for governor in 2020 on Friday. Cruz rose to national prominence after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017. When President Trump called the response to the hurricane “incredible,” Cruz responded by saying “Where have you been?” and lambasting the Trump administration’s slow response to supplying emergency aid. Trump has criticized Cruz for being “nasty” and reflecting “poor” leadership. Cruz is running as a member of the Popular Democratic Party, which opposes statehood for Puerto Rico. [NBC News, The Week]


The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York said on Friday that it would not accept future donations from the family of Mortimer Sackler. The Sackler family has pursued many philanthropic endeavors over the years, but institutions around the world have demonstrated an increased skepticism about accepting their money after the family’s pharmaceutical interests were linked to the opioid crisis. Members of the Sackler family own Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the painkiller OxyContin. The Guggenheim’s decision was announced the same week that major museums in the U.K., like Tate and Britain’s National Portrait Gallery, came to similar conclusions. [The New York Times, Hyperallergic]


For the first time since 2005, the NBA playoffs will not feature LeBron James. James’ Los Angeles Lakers were officially eliminated from contention following Friday evening’s 111-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Los Angeles dropped to 31-41 overall with 10 games remaining in the regular season. It is the sixth year in a row that the Lakers, who signed James during the offseason, have missed the postseason. Before the current streak of futility, the storied franchise missed the playoffs only five times during its first 65 seasons in the league. Despite the lack of team success and having to deal with a mid-season injury, James still put up his usual prolific numbers, averaging 27.4 points, 8.1 assists, and 8.5 rebounds per game on the year. [ESPN, Bleacher Report]