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April 16, 2018

Monday marked the beginning of the annual Lyrid meteor shower, EarthSky reported. Lasting for nine days — until April 25 — the shower is composed of debris from the comet Thatcher, whose orbit crosses Earth's around this time every year. The comet was last spotted in 1861, and its 415-year-long orbit means it won't return until 2276.

But while we earthlings won't get to see the full-on comet, we will get to see parts of it light up the sky. The Lyrids are named after the Lyra constellation, the closest one to where they typically appear in the night sky. They comprise one of the oldest observed meteor showers, with early records of the Lyrid meteor shower dating back to 687 B.C., Business Insider notes.

The most meteors are expected to be visible from April 21 to April 23, with the peak just before dawn on April 22, Business Insider reported. Because of the waxing moon, it's expected that about 10 to 20 falling meteors per hour will be visible in areas of low light pollution during the peak. The brightness of the shower should enable it to be observed by the naked eye, and Business Insider noted that narrowing your point of view with a telescope might actually make you more likely to miss meteors falling.

Read more about how best to get a peek at EarthSky. Shivani Ishwar

8:06 a.m.

New Zealand continues to act swiftly in its response to the mass shootings that claimed 50 lives at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand last week.

The manifesto, believed to be written by Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian who has been charged with the murder of 50 people, 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 and was also sent to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office just minutes before Tarrant carried out the attack.

"Others have referred to this publication as a 'manifesto', but I consider it a crude booklet that promotes murder and terrorism. It is objectionable under New Zealand law," New Zealand's Chief Censor David Shanks said. "It crosses the line."

The decision follows another one made earlier this week which banned footage of the shootings, including edited clips and still images. The New Zealand government also banned semi-automatic rifles and accessories just six days after the shooting. Tim O'Donnell

7:47 a.m.

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 in a memo that surfaced 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 the 2.3 million survivors from Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria, as well as the 2017 California wildfires find housing. It included 20 "unnecessary" fields such as electronic funds transfer numbers, bank transit numbers, and addresses.

FEMA said in a statement that it has already begun filtering the data to ensure it cannot be shared with the public, and the organization has said that there is so far no indication that the information has been compromised. But, per CNN, a more permanent fix may not be finalized until June 2020. Tim O'Donnell

March 22, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report is here, and pretty much no one knows what's in it.

The Justice Department announced Friday that Mueller had finished his investigation into potential ties between President Trump's campaign and Russian election interference. And within minutes, even the most unexpected lawmakers started calling for Attorney General William Barr to release it to the public.

First up came a wave of Democratic voices. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a joint call for public report, while 2020 candidates chimed in with some variation on the theme. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also surprisingly called for a public release, saying it was needed to "put an end to the speculation and innuendo that has loomed over the administration."

Those calls reflected a 420-0 House vote last week on a non-binding resolution to make the report public. Heck, even Trump said Tuesday that he wouldn't mind if Congress saw what Mueller had to say. But there's still one major holdout: Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). In his Friday statement, Graham reflected Barr's language in simply calling for "as much transparency as possible, consistent with the law." Graham also blocked the House's popular resolution from a vote in the Senate earlier this week.

Grassley did pointedly note Friday that he was in Graham's committee position just last year — perhaps something he's regretting giving up right about now. Kathryn Krawczyk

March 22, 2019

A senior Justice Department official said Friday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will not recommend any further indictments, ABC News reports.

Mueller, whose inquiry into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian election interference was completed late Friday afternoon, had issued indictments for more than three dozen individuals over the nearly two-year investigation, including for former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

While the lack of new indictments may come as a disappointment to those who saw Mueller's report as a potentially crippling blow to the Trump administration, it is still unclear what the completed report contains — and NBC News notes that evidence uncovered by the special counsel's probe could be used in other investigations, like in the Southern District of New York. But the spectacle of former Trump associates being led into court as a result of Mueller's investigation appears to have come to an end. Jacob Lambert

March 22, 2019

Although Special Counsel Robert Mueller missed his chance to deliver his report to Attorney General William Barr on the Ides of March, he picked another significant date to finish the long-awaited conclusion.

On March 22, 1973, a conversation between former President Richard Nixon and his former attorney general, John Mitchell, was recorded — a conversation that was later used to indict Mitchell on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury for his role in the attempted cover-up of the Watergate scandal of 1972. In this recording, Nixon can be heard instructing Mitchell to "stonewall" the ongoing Watergate trial and "save the plan."

Comparisons between Presidents Nixon and Trump have been endlessly drawn since Trump assumed office in 2017, which makes this historical coincidence particularly noticeable. But we won't know if a conspiracy on the scale of Nixon's has occurred in the Trump White House unless the conclusions of Mueller report are made public — which could happen as soon as this weekend.

Read the full transcript of the Nixon tape in question here, or listen to all of the tapes played during the Watergate trial here, courtesy of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. Shivani Ishwar

March 22, 2019

News that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had submitted his final report to the Justice Department on Friday fueled speculation that President Trump could be in for a very rough weekend, but several pundits weren't so sure.

While Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) warned that the Democratic-controlled House has "subpoena power" and promised "the American people will see every word, every comma, every period" of the report on whether the Trump campaign was involved with Russian election interference, but CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin thought eager viewers should cool their jets.

While Attorney General William Barr wrote that he could brief Congress on the report's conclusions "as soon as this weekend," Toobin said that if he does share the findings, "it's going to take a while," not come within days. Several agencies will have to weigh in on whether aspects of the report can be declassified, said Toobin, though he acknowledged the process was going quicker than he expected.

Toobin also asserted that Mueller was "never told no" during his investigation, something ABC News' Terry Moran agreed with, saying Mueller had "free reign" and still opted not to bring any more charges against Trump campaign officials. However, Moran said "it's possible that we will learn a conclusion, the broad conclusion, very quickly," suggesting no further indictments and a completed investigation will speak for themselves, forming a de facto "no collusion" conclusion. Summer Meza

March 22, 2019

The White House heard the news approximately 30 seconds before the rest of the world.

Right around 5 p.m. EST Friday, the Department of Justice announced Special Counsel Robert Mueller had finished his investigation into potential ties between President Trump's campaign and Russian election interference. The White House reportedly heard the news only a few minutes before the announcement — and this reaction from President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani seems to prove it.

As speculation mounted throughout the day that Mueller had finished his report, Giuliani delightfully told The Washington Post that all this hype was "like waiting for a baby." He also added that Trump's team was "not expecting" further indictments from the report. Yet as the first report surfaced confirming the rumors were true, Giuliani appeared shocked, telling The Hill "I can't believe they'd put out a report at 5 o'clock on a Friday — but they've surprised me before." He and fellow Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow then issued a full statement.

The White House also followed up the news with a statement of its own, confirming that the White House did not get to look at Mueller's report before its completion.

Meanwhile, officials who've talked with Trump tell ABC News that he's just "glad it's over." Kathryn Krawczyk

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