‘Start Here’: Barr alleges ‘spying’ on Trump, Bernie reintroduces ‘Medicare for All’


It’s Thursday, April 11, 2019. Let’s start here.

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1. Investigating the investigation

Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers he’s assembling a team to examine whether there was improper surveillance of the Trump campaign and its potential ties to Russia in 2016.

“I think spying did occur,” Barr said Wednesday on Capitol Hill. “But the question is if it was predicated, adequately predicated, and I’m not suggesting that it wasn’t adequately predicated.”

Democrats blasted Barr’s remarks and questioned his independence as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying: “He is not the attorney general of Donald Trump. He is the attorney general of the United States.”

The president and many Republican allies have long advocated for a probe into how special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation began, ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce notes today on “Start Here.”

“Now that the Mueller investigation is over,” Bruce tells us, “this is the investigation into that investigation.”

Andrew Harnik/AP

Attorney General William Barr appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, April 10, 2019, in Washington.

2. $32 trillion?

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has re-introduced his “Medicare for All” legislation, which, if signed into law, would provide a government-run, single-payer system and eliminate most private insurance.

The 2020 presidential hopeful detailed on Wednesday how the plan would eliminate premiums, deductibles and co-pays, but he didn’t include a price tag.

“It’s hard to imagine that just taxing the wealthiest Americans would generate enough revenue to pay for all of this,” ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks says on today’s podcast. “There are some estimates that this plan would cost the federal government $32 trillion over 10 years.”

3. Pleading the 5th

Benjamin Netanyahu, who deserved to be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, according to Israel’s attorney general, appears set to begin his fifth term as the nation’s prime minister.

Netanyahu pledged to supporters he would annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, a campaign promise made to shore up his base and which “changes the Middle East policy as we’ve know it over the past 25 years,” ABC News Chief National Correspondent Matt Gutman tells “Start Here.”

On the heels of Bibi’s victory, the Trump administration said it’s preparing to roll out a “peace plan” spearheaded by White House adviser Jared Kushner as early as this month, sources familiar told ABC News.

Ariel Schalit/AP

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his supporters after polls for Israel’s general elections closed in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 10, 2019.

4. A ‘troubled legacy’

Georgetown’s undergraduate students will vote today on whether student activity fees should include a $27.20 contribution to a fund for the descendants of 272 slaves sold by the university in 1838.

It’s a divisive issue on campus, according to Yasmine Salam, executive editor of The Hoya, the campus newspaper.

Salam tells “Start Here” those against the fee believe the “burden” of Georgetown’s past shouldn’t fall on students, and those who support the fee want to “take responsibility” for the university’s “troubled legacy.”

The school said in a statement to ABC News that the referendum wouldn’t create a new policy, but that the university appreciated students for speaking out. Georgetown officials added they plan to carefully review the voting results and, regardless of the result, continue a commitment to engaging with students and descendants and the broader community in addressing the school’s ties to slavery.

Aimin Tang/Getty Images, FILE

White-Gravenor Hall of Georgetown University is shown.

“Start Here,” ABC News’ flagship podcast, offers 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. Follow @StartHereABC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for exclusive content and show updates.

Elsewhere:

‘I would love to give them, but I’m not going to do it while I’m under audit’: The president of the United States of America explains why he still won’t release his tax returns, which any American under audit is legally allowed to release, according to the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.

‘These changes are the result of feedback we heard from people of different religions and cultural backgrounds as well as experts and academics’: Facebook updates death settings.

From our friends at FiveThirtyEight:

Magic Johnson was never cut out to do this: Normally, we’d be prone to view a team president’s sudden resignation as a sign of enormous trouble for a franchise. The fact that we aren’t talking about how much this will damage Los Angeles speaks volumes about Johnson and how ill-prepared he was for the front-office job in the first place.

Doff your cap:

“He,” Derrick Nelson’s father said, “was the greatest.”

Play

High school principal dies donating bone marrow

The 44-year-old principal of Westfield High School in New Jersey died earlier this week after slipping into a coma while donating bone marrow intended for a 14-year-old boy.

Nelson, born and raised in the Garden State, served in the U.S. Army Reserve and earned a doctorate in education administration from Seton Hall University. He leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter.

“This is a tremendous loss for our community, and I know that our children, and we as parents, will struggle with coming to terms with this over the coming days and weeks,” Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle said in a statement. “He was a man of immense character and kindness, and his legacy will live on in the generations of students whose lives he touched.”

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