‘Start Here’: Whitaker, Mueller, measles. What you need to know to start your day.


It’s Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. Let’s start here.

1. Barr confirmation vote delayed

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote on attorney general nominee William Barr has been delayed a week as Democrats seek more answers on how he’d handle special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia.

“They’re laser-focused right now on the report,” ABC News’ Devin Dwyer tells us. “What will come out? Can the public see all of it? They want to make sure that the next attorney general commits to that.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle also have questioned comments made by acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who said this week the Russia probe is “close to being completed” and that he hoped a report would be produced “as soon as possible.”

“I don’t know why he knows that,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters on Tuesday. “Mueller will be allowed to finish his job. That’s the goal, that’s going to happen. I don’t know how you say that in light of the grand jury being extended six months.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also shared concerns, adding, “I think Mr. Mueller should speak for himself.”

2. Intel chiefs contradict Trump

Top U.S. intelligence officials were on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to present an assessment of global threats to the nation, and much of what they said contradicted the president.

On North Korea, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee the country is “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons,” and CIA Director Gina Haspel said the North “is committed to developing a long-range armed missile that would pose a direct threat to the United States.”

Trump has said North Korea is “no longer a nuclear threat,” and he’s expected to attend a second summit with Kim Jong Un next month.

The officials’ “Worldwide Threat Assessment” also included warnings on Russia’s attempts to influence elections and the continuing threat of ISIS.

“I think right now,” ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz tells us, “you’ve got Donald Trump saying a lot of things and the intelligence community and others acting on them in a different way.”

3. ‘Empire’ star attacked in possible hate crime

Authorities in Chicago are investigating a possible hate crime after “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was attacked early Tuesday.

Police said Smollett was out getting food when he was approached by “two unknown offenders” who allegedly covered their faces and were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.”

The openly gay actor was then beat up, according to police, and an “unknown chemical” was poured on him. At some point during the incident, the two men “wrapped a rope around [his] neck,” officials said.

As investigators search for evidence and video related to the incident, ABC News’ Steve Osunsami tells us law enforcement officials are looking into a threatening letter targeting Smollett that was delivered about a week and a half ago.

4. Aloha, measles

Yesterday, the number of confirmed measles cases in Clark County, Washington, grew to at least 36, and officials said two people in Hawaii now have the disease after contracting it in the Pacific Northwest.

ABC News Chief National correspondent Matt Gutman says low vaccination rates may be to blame.

Other news:

‘He killed five people. So this is a monster.’ A 21-year-old man confesses to killing his parents, his girlfriend and two of her family members.

‘The man immediately turned, punched that woman in the face’: The Los Angeles Police Department releases video of a man punching two women near a hot dog cart on a crowded sidewalk.

‘Out of control’ A Utah man files a $3.1 million lawsuit against Gwyneth Paltrow in which he accuses the actress, in 2016, of a hit-and-run skiing accident, “knocking him out, and causing a brain injury, four broken ribs and other serious injuries.”

From our partners at FiveThirtyEight:

How Anthony Davis would fit on the Lakers, Celtics, Nets, Sixers and Knicks: We learned Monday that superstar big man Anthony Davis wants out of New Orleans, which all but means that the Pelicans have to deal him before he leaves for nothing.

Republicans in early primary states face a choice: Protect Trump or their place in line: Those officials have to decide whether to hold — or not hold — primaries and caucuses in 2020.

Last ‘Nightline’:

Fyre Festival investigation sparks conversation about power of influencers: In the world of social media influencers, the line between what’s fact and what’s advertisement can be blurry.

Ted Bundy movie faces backlash for allegedly glamorizing serial killer: Critics are up in arms that a man who confessed to brutally murdering 30 people is being played in a Netflix biopic by Hollywood heartthrob Zac Efron.

On this day in history:

Jan. 30, 2002 — In his State of the Union, President George W. Bush calls Iran, Iraq and North Korea the “axis of evil.”

The must-see photo:

Snow falls as a man inspects an overturned pickup truck in a field on Blue Rock Road in Manor Township, Pennsylvania. (photo credit: Blaine Shahan/LNP/LancasterOnline/AP)

For more great photos from around the world CLICK HERE.

Socially acceptable:

It was so cold in Chicago, crews had to set fire to commuter rail tracks to keep the trains moving.

All right, you’re off and running. Get the latest news on ABCNews.com and on the ABC News app. Details on how to subscribe to the “Start Here” podcast are below.

See you tomorrow.

“Start Here” is the flagship daily news podcast from ABC News — a straightforward look at the day’s top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, or the ABC News app. On Amazon Echo, ask Alexa to “Play ‘Start Here'” or add the “Start Here” skill to your Flash Briefing. Follow @StartHereABC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for exclusive content, show updates and more.

Leave a Reply