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BC-AP Top Stories Digest

March 26, 2019

Here are the AP’s latest coverage plans, top stories and promotable content. All times EST. For up-to-the minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at https://newsroom.ap.org .

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TOP STORIES

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CONGRESS-RUSSIA PROBE — Emboldened by the end of the special counsel’s Russia probe, President Trump heads to Capitol Hill for a victory lap with Senate Republicans. But he faces new challenges as House Democrats battle for the full release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. By Mary Clare Jalonick, Lisa Mascaro and Laurie Kellman. SENT: 870 words. UPCOMING: Updates expected after 1 p.m., 890 words by 4 p.m., photos, video. WITH: TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE-PAPADOPOULOS — A former Trump campaign aide at the center of the early days of the FBI’s Russia investigation said the FBI wanted him to wear a wire to record conversations with a professor who told him the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. SENT: 390 words, photo.

EMPIRE CAST MEMBER-ATTACK — Prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett, defense attorneys said, apparently abandoning the case barely five weeks after the “Empire” actor was accused of lying to police about being the target of a racist, anti-gay attack in downtown Chicago. By Amanda Seitz and Michael Tarm. SENT: 600 words, photo. WITH: EMPIRE CAST MEMBER-ATTACK-TIMELINE — Key moments since Jussie Smollett reported Chicago attack. SENT: 700 words, photos.

NETANYAHU HAMAS — With Israel locked in a tight election race, Hamas has emerged as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s underbelly. A new outburst of violence this week, highlighted by a rocket attack on Israel’s heartland, was the latest reminder of Netanyahu’s inability to cope with the Islamic militantly group. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m. WITH: ISRAEL-GAZA — Prime Minister Netanyahu, back from Washington, holds consultations after escalation of Gaza-Israel violence. SENT: 990 words, photos.

OPIOID LAWSUIT-OKLAHOMA — The maker of OxyContin and the family that owns the company have reached a $270 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma over the prescription painkiller’s role in the nation’s deadly opioid crisis, a person familiar with the agreement said. Oklahoma’s attorney general scheduled an afternoon news conference to announce the settlement with Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma and its controlling Sackler family. By Ken Miller and Geoff Mulvihill. SENT: 1,180 words, photos.

DEMOCRATS-HEALTH CARE — The Trump administration’s push to fully scrap “Obamacare” could hand Democratic presidential candidates an issue to campaign on at a time when they’d like to turn the page from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveils a bill to shore up the health care law, a key 2018 campaign theme. By Elana Schor and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. SENT: 560 words. UPCOMING: Updates from 2:30 p.m. Pelosi news conference, 800 words by 5 p.m., photos, video.

MICHAEL AVENATTI-ARREST — The charges against attorney Michael Avenatti came together at warp speed, taking the attorney from facing cameras to facing prison. A day later, he returned to form and came out punching, launching an attack on Nike, the company he’s accused of extorting. SENT: 1,000 words, photos. UPCOMING: New version by 5:30 p.m.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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TRUMP-BORDER SECURITY — President Trump is nearing a victory on his push to build a border wall as House Democrats vote on whether to override his first veto, a vote that seems likely to fail. The administration is moving ahead with plans to shift Pentagon money to the project. SENT: 590 words. UPCOMING: Developing from mid-afternoon vote, 800 words by 5 p.m., photos, video.

CONGRESS-GREEN NEW DEAL — Senate Republicans force a vote on the Green New Deal as they seek to turn the Democrats’ comprehensive climate change proposal into a wedge issue in the 2020 elections. UPCOMING: 800 words by 5 p.m., photo.

CONGRESS-TRADE — President Donald Trump meets with GOP lawmakers to press for congressional approval of the new U.S. trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. It faces uncertain prospects given that Republicans are at odds with some aspects of the plan and Democrats are in no hurry to secure a political victory for the president. SENT: 870 words. UPCOMING: Developing from 3:15 p.m. meeting, 850 words by 5 p.m., photos, video.

SUPREME COURT-REDISTRICTING — The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seems wary of getting federal judges involved in determining when electoral district maps are too partisan. In more than two hours of arguments over Republican-drawn congressional districts in North Carolina and a single congressional district drawn to benefit Democrats in Maryland, the justices on the right side of the court asked repeatedly whether unelected judges should police the partisan actions of elected officials. SENT: 680 words. UPCOMING: 750 words by 4 p.m., photos, video.

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INTERNATIONAL

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VENEZUELA — Much of Venezuela remained without electricity as a new power outage spread across the country in what many feared will be a repeat of the chaos during the nation’s largest-ever blackout earlier this month. The outage began around midday Monday and appeared to have affected the majority of Venezuela’s 23 states. While the lights flickered back on in many parts after officials declared service would be restored within hours, the grid collapsed again in the late evening, knocking out communications and leaving much of the South American country bracing for the worst. By Christopher Torchia. SENT: 750 words, photos.

VATICAN-WOMEN — Founder, editorial board of the Vatican women’s magazine quit after what they say was a Vatican campaign to discredit them and put them “under the direct control of men.” The decision is a blow to Pope Francis’ efforts to give greater decision-making roles to women at the Vatican. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

SPAIN-NKOREA-EMBASSY ATTACK — A Spanish court accused an American, Mexican and South Korean of being part of a 10-member group that led a mysterious attack on the North Korean Embassy in February, saying the assailants then offered the FBI stolen data from the raid. SENT: 500 words, photos.

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NATIONAL

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MARIJUANA-LEGALIZATION LANDSCAPE — To anyone who figured the path of legalizing recreational marijuana use ran along blue state-red state lines, a sudden setback for pot advocates in New Jersey may show the issue isn’t so black-and-white. SENT: 865 words, photos.

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BUSINESS/TECH

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WALL STREET BONUSES — The average bonus paid to Wall Street traders dipped by more than $30,000 despite a jump of 11 percent in securities industry profits, according to a report released by the comptroller for New York state. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s annual estimate of the average bonus paid to security industry employees found that bonuses fell 17 percent last year, from $184,400 in 2017 to $153,700. SENT: 400 words.

APPLE-CREDIT CARD — Apple is rolling out a credit card that it says is designed to do things no other card can. So how does it stack up? It looks different from a traditional credit card — there’s no number on the front and the users’ name is etched in metal. The card expands the company’s digital Apple Pay services and comes with a bevy of perks. But industry experts say the benefits are underwhelming, mirroring many of those already out there. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 4:30 p.m.

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ENTERTAINMENT

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ROYAL BABY-POSTPARTUM PERFECTION — With another royal baby on the horizon, the debate over postpartum perfection is alive and well. We don’t know whether Meghan Markle will follow Kate Middleton’s example when it comes to that magically perfect appearance, but we have an inkling she’ll at least slap on some makeup when she introduces the latest royal to the world next month. SENT: 825 words, photos.

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SPORTS

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NCAA TOURNAMENT MONEY — An NCAA Tournament upset or at-large bid is like winning the lottery for the smaller conferences in college basketball. They often use it to fund conference-wide initiatives to improve the quality of basketball, giving their teams a better chance to be the next Cinderella team of March Madness. But an exclusive AP analysis of more than $3 billion paid out over more than 20 years shows those windfalls are becoming harder to come by as power conferences hoard tournament revenue. By College Sports Writer Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 1,600 words, photos. An abridged version of 910 words has also been sent.