US briefing: White House in crisis, Michael Bloomberg and opioid trial

Tim Walker
The Guardian
<span>Photograph: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

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Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

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Trump ‘surprised’ by backlash to G7 summit plans

The acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, appeared on Fox News on Sunday, fronting the administration’s efforts to contain the fallout from a politically perilous week. Mulvaney rowed back his own comments from last week, when he appeared to admit a quid pro quo in the president’s dealings with Ukraine. He also said Donald Trump had been “surprised at the level of pushback” to his announcement that next year’s G7 summit would be held at his own Miami golf resort – a decision he reversed amid bipartisan criticism.

Bloomberg ‘still looking at’ presidential run if Biden drops out

<span class="element-image__caption">The centrist billionaire has repeatedly clashed with the progressive senator Elizabeth Warren over her anti-corporate policies.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP</span>
The centrist billionaire has repeatedly clashed with the progressive senator Elizabeth Warren over her anti-corporate policies. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York, has told friends and associates he is “still looking at” the possibility of a 2020 presidential run. The 77-year-old centrist, who has repeatedly criticised Elizabeth Warren’s anti-corporate policy platform, has reportedly said he may consider a tilt at the Democratic nomination if Warren’s fellow frontrunner Joe Biden were to drop out. Bloomberg apparently fears the progressive Massachusetts senator would be too far left to defeat Trump.

  • Third time lucky? Bloomberg also flirted with the idea of running as an independent in 2012 and 2016, but concluded both times that he would split the Democratic vote and help the Republican to win office.

Opioid makers to go on trial in Ohio after settlement talks fail

<span class="element-image__caption">Walgreens, the second-largest pharmacy chain in the US, is among the companies in the dock in Cleveland.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Mohammad Khursheed/Reuters</span>
Walgreens, the second-largest pharmacy chain in the US, is among the companies in the dock in Cleveland. Photograph: Mohammad Khursheed/Reuters

The drug industry is set to go on trial over the opioids crisis in Cleveland, Ohio on Monday, as a jury hears claims by thousands of US communities that drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies conspired to fuel the deadly epidemic. Last-minute talks to forestall the trial, which concerns lawsuits brought by two Ohio counties, failed amid a dispute over whether the offered settlement of $50bn was sufficient to meet the costs of the crisis. The companies in the dock have all denied responsibility.

Related: How did a town in West Virginia become the opioid capital of the US?

  • Costly crisis. The opioids epidemic has cost the US more than $800bn in the last four years alone, according to a new study of its overall economic impact by the Society of Actuaries.

Meghan: ‘I was warned UK tabloids would destroy my life’

The Duchess of Sussex has said she was warned before marrying Prince Harry that the British tabloid press would “destroy” her life, in an interview for a TV documentary. “When I first met my now husband, my friends were really happy because I was so happy. But my British friends said to me: ‘I’m sure he’s great. But you shouldn’t do it because the British tabloids will destroy your life,’” she said in the film, which was broadcast in the UK on Sunday.

  • Legal action. The interview was filmed on the couple’s tour of southern Africa, during which it was announced the duchess was suing the Mail on Sunday newspaper, over claims it unlawfully published a private letter she sent to her estranged father.

  • Harry and Wills. The interviewer, Tom Bradby, is a longtime friend of the princes. Harry addressed rumours of a rift between himself and his brother, William, saying they were “on different paths at the moment”.

Cheat sheet

  • At least eight people are reported to have died in Chile amid a wave of protests and violence, prompted by a recent hike in subway fares that the country’s president, Sebastián Piñera, reversed at the weekend in the hope of ending the unrest.

  • Cheap solar, wind and hydropower projects are proliferating at such a rate that the International Energy Agency now says global supplies of renewable electricity could expand by 50% in the next five years.

  • The former governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King has warned in a speech in Washington that the world is “sleepwalking” into another financial crisis, which “would be devastating to the legitimacy of a democratic market system”.

  • Neuroscientists may have crossed an “ethical rubicon” by growing potentially sentient human “mini-brains” in the lab to investigate schizophrenia, autism and other disorders, researchers have said.


Environmental injustice and our unequal Earth

To introduce the Guardian’s new series, Our Unequal Earth, five luminaries explain the pressing issue of “environmental justice”, while Nina Lakhani reports on the Colorado River, which serves more than 35 million Americans before reaching the Mexican border, where it is dammed – leaving those on the other side with a dry delta.

Has Netflix fixed its controversial ‘fat-shaming’ show?

The second season of the critically reviled beauty pageant comedy Insatiable has landed on Netflix, and it appears to be addressing its past mistakes in earnest fashion, writes Arielle Bernstein. But has it just slapped a Band-Aid over the problems of an “overwhelmingly crass” first season?

Teachers for Bernie, CEOs for Buttigieg: who’s backing whom

The Guardian has analysed fundraising reports from the 2020 presidential candidates to find out who is winning over which professions. It turns out teachers love Bernie Sanders, executives are excited by Pete Buttigieg and lawyers opt for Joe Biden, but retirees back Donald Trump. Julia Carrie Wong and Peter Andringa crunch the numbers.

Health workers fight homophobia in Uganda

Maria Nantale holds a twice-weekly outreach in the Ugandan town of Mbale for those most at risk in the country with the world’s 10th highest rate of HIV. But Uganda is also one of the most homophobic nations, which is why Nantale is risking her life by helping others, as she tells Jacob Kushner.


Now that she is approaching frontrunner status in the Democratic primary, Elizabeth Warren is facing questions about her healthcare agenda – and staying “vague” on the answers. That’s because she senses the guide rails of electoral politics, says Art Cullen.

It’s simple. Warren left herself enough wiggle room on healthcare to drive a Mack truck through so she can tack to the center for the general election.


The Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman was ejected for provoking a brawl as frustrations boiled over during the Falcons’ dispiriting 37-10 loss to the LA Rams on Sunday, while elsewhere in the NFL Aaron Rodgers was at his best as the Packers beat the Raiders 42-24.

The Galaxy has set up a Los Angeles derby with LAFC in the Western Conference semi-finals, after beating Minnesota United in the first round of the MLS playoffs on Sunday. Meanwhile Wayne Rooney has ended his MLS career on the bench, as Toronto FC scored four extra-time goals to sink the former England striker’s DC United 5-1.

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