Day after tornado outbreak, more severe weather threatens Texas, Oklahoma

A very slow-moving set of storm systems continues to pummel the central U.S. with severe storms and flooding rain on Wednesday morning.

A tornado outbreak triggered 25 tornadoes on Tuesday across five states: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas.

Overall, there were 73 damaging storm reports in the last 24 hours from Texas to Illinois with large hail in Illinois, damaging winds up to 65 mph in Oklahoma and heavy rain that caused flooding in Davenport, Iowa.

The complex storm system is nearly stationary early Wednesday, stretching from the Great Lakes all the way west into the Rockies. Eight states are under flood alerts from Texas to Michigan.

PHOTO: Flood alerts stretch across five states on Wednesday morning.ABC News

Flood alerts stretch across five states on Wednesday morning.

Severe storms will fire up from Texas to Oklahoma and into Arkansas and Louisiana heading into the afternoon and evening hours.

The bull’s-eye will be right over northern Texas — from Dallas to Abilene — where we could see a few tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail.

PHOTO: Strong winds, hail and possible tornadoes pose a threat for central Texas and southern Oklahoma City.ABC News

Strong winds, hail and possible tornadoes pose a threat for central Texas and southern Oklahoma City.

With this complex of storm systems not moving much, more rain is expected to fall on already saturated ground from Texas into the Midwest.

Locally, half a foot of rain is possible in northern Texas and into Arkansas. Flash flooding is expected again Wednesday.

PHOTO: Areas of central Texas, through Arkansas, could see as much as 6 inches of rain this week.ABC News

Areas of central Texas, through Arkansas, could see as much as 6 inches of rain this week.

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Democrats weigh a ‘Benghazi Trump’ strategy

Donald Trump

Democrats are laying the groundwork for more high-profile hearings as the 2020 presidential race heats up. | Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images


The White House is refusing to hand over documents and impeachment proceedings seem unlikely, so the Democrats are turning to hearings to bludgeon the president.

Democrats may not be able to saddle President Donald Trump with impeachment proceedings or pry documents from his administration, but they have another means of bludgeoning him: hearings, hearings and more hearings.

It’s a counter-strategy to the president’s all-out resistance to congressional investigations, lawmakers told POLITICO. Democrats say the optics are on their side. Witnesses like Attorney General William Barr, ex-White House counsel Don McGahn and special counsel Robert Mueller are all but guaranteed to draw blanket media attention. And even if the bold-faced names don’t show up, party leaders recognize that the spectacle of empty chairs and drawn-out legal fights could dog Trump and create negative narratives during the 2020 race.

Story Continued Below

“Let’s face it, most Americans are not going to read a 400-plus page report,” said Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson, a senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, referencing the special counsel’s report summarizing the nearly two-year Russia probe. “They would much rather see something on TV that they can make conclusions for themselves about. That’s the age we’re living in. It’s almost entertainment.”

Democrats say a spate of hearings will also highlight Trump’s efforts to stonewall their myriad probes. The president has resisted at least half a dozen subpoenas from House committees and launched an unprecedented series of federal lawsuits to invalidate some of the information requests.

The approach is almost as much political as it is tactical. It gives Democrats a chance to navigate around the thorny impeachment question, while still showcasing their majority and flexing their investigative chops. And they might even uncover some wrongdoing along the way just as the 2020 presidential race heats up.

“There’s a big sentiment amongst some that they should ‘Benghazi’ Trump,” said Julian Epstein, a former senior House Democratic aide, referring to how Republicans spent two years relentlessly holding hearings about the 2012 terrorist attack in Libya, a process that revealed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The unexpected discovery ultimately haunted Clinton’s own presidential campaign.

Epstein, who served as chief counsel for the House Judiciary Committee Democrats during the Bill Clinton impeachment fight, said a spate of hearings has two purposes: creating a political weapon to weaken the president going into 2020, and also satisfying a party base frustrated that the House hasn’t moved to impeach the president.

“Democrats are trying to figure out what their off-ramp is here,” he said.

One, he said, is the hearing-laden “Benghazi” approach. Another is a censure resolution that passes on the House floor, effectively serving as a formal wrist slap for Trump. “They don’t have a lot of good options,” Epstein noted.

Trump and his administration have been eager to play the political card, too.

White House officials have either refused to turn over documents or delayed producing them to 12 House committees, according to Democratic aides. Several administration officials have also ignored requests for interviews and testimony. Barr, for example, is resisting plans to appear Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee because Democrats want to allow the panel’s staff counsel to ask the attorney general an additional hour of questions about the Mueller investigation.

The president and his allies argue that Trump has the authority to fight the House Democrats because they were openly taunting him with plans to launch their investigations and discussing impeachment since well before last year’s midterm elections returned them to power.

“By the time you hear all that, you say, ‘What am I, a sucker? I’m gonna go in front of these people who want to hang me?” Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, told POLITICO. “This is a complete political game now. It’s even being calculated by them based on are they gonna get hurt or not by carrying it on.”

Still, Democrats continue to lay the groundwork for more high-profile hearings.

On the oversight panel, they issued a subpoena to a former White House official to testify about potential security clearance abuses. The gathering would shed a spotlight on allegations that staffers including Trump son-in-law and senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner were granted clearances after initially being denied.

Over at the Judiciary committee, Democrats are angling to hold what might be the most blockbuster hearing — Mueller himself. They’ve subpoenaed the Justice Department for Mueller’s full report, his underlying evidence and are in talks to get the special counsel to testify as early as next week. They’ve also authorized subpoenas for a slate of former top Trump aides, including Hope Hicks, Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon — all of whom would create spectacle hearings that resonate beyond the Beltway.

And one attention-grabbing hearing could be rescheduled in the coming weeks. Felix Sater, the chief negotiator for Trump’s failed election-year attempts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, had previously agreed to testify but his appearance was pushed off until after the Mueller report came out.

“We need to put some color around the Mueller report and really come to a conclusion in concert with the American people over what the proper response is,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a member of the Intelligence committee.

“And until people are more familiar with the details of what occurred, it’s hard to come to a unified notion,” Himes added. “Certainly, in my district and around the country, there’s ambivalence about the right mechanism of accountability for the president. Just as in the 1970s, we need to do more work and better understand what occurred.”

With the never-ending gush of news, each hearing could also come on the heels of new revelations, giving lawmakers a rare chance to publicly press the key players. For instance, just hours before Barr was set to testify before the Senate on Wednesday, it came out that Mueller had sent him a letter expressing frustration with the attorney general’s initial characterization of his report.

Within minutes, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a presidential candidate who will question Mueller as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had tweeted: “Barr will have to answer for this at our hearing. Updating my questions!”

The high-profile hearing formula has worked for Democrats in the past.

When Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, testified in February, it was appointment viewing. Trump fumed at the revelations from the public hearing, and Cohen’s appearance launched new avenues of investigation. Both House Democrats and New York authorities subpoenaed documents related to Trump’s financial records based on Cohen’s answers.

Some Democrats who have been in the oversight trenches argued that the strategy shouldn’t be viewed through a 2020 lens, though.

“Their responsibility is to be methodical and follow the facts,” said Phil Schiliro, the former Obama White House legislative director and a veteran House Democratic aide under then-Oversight Chairman Henry Waxman. “That’s not something that happens quickly.”

Even House Democrats are fretting about their limited time to notch victories as they square off against a Trump White House willing to push many oversight battles into the courts.

California Rep. Eric Swalwell, a 2020 White House hopeful who serves on both the judiciary and intelligence committees, said in an interview that it wouldn’t take much for Trump to “run out the clock” on Democratic document and testimony demands.

Others caution that Democrats might appear overzealous and even create sympathetic witnesses during a parade of highly publicized hearings.

“Do you really want to put Hope Hicks on TV? She’s going to win that,” said a Washington-based defense attorney who worked on the Mueller investigation.

Several Republicans say that Democrats would have more options for getting materials from Trump’s administration, and even underlying materials at the center of Mueller’s investigation, if they open up formal impeachment proceedings. So far, that’s a step that Democratic leadership has been reluctant to endorse.

“I don’t know frankly if it’s such a bad thing for Democrats to do that. Once you get these things and you explore it, who knows where it goes?” said Tom Davis, a former Virginia GOP congressman who chaired the House Oversight Committee.

William Moschella, who ran the Justice Department’s congressional affairs office during the George W. Bush administration, said the current Democratic clamor for documents and testimony “seems to be adding fuel to the impeachment fire” even as party leaders try to stay away from the topic.

“The Hill must know that these various unorthodox requests are going to be rebuffed and when they are, members are going to claim that those refusals are evidence of obstruction and that they must defend the institutional integrity of the House,” he said. “To mix metaphors, these things have a way of snowballing.”

Democrats counter that Trump’s run-out-the-clock strategy will damage his re-election chances.

Democrats expect they’ll ultimately prevail in court against Trump’s efforts to invalidate their subpoenas, including those seeking Trump’s financial information.

“If we get the information, he’s seen as violating the law or supporting a position that is contrary to the law, and we get the information anyway, that’s not a winning strategy for him,” said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), a senior member of the oversight panel.

And it’s those same battles that Democrats say could still produce the kinds of smoking guns that go off right in the heat of the 2020 campaign.

“I don’t think it serves him to delay all this,” said Swalwell, “because if he knows his history, he will see that the courts are going to rule against him, and the courts take time to make their rulings and so the rulings could come out at a time when Americans are thinking about who they want to lead them.”

Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.

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Jess from Queer Eye season 3 met some of her favorite band Paramore thanks to Antoni: See the photo

Queer Eye’s Antoni helps Jess Guilbeaux meet Paramore — see the photo |

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Mueller complained to Barr about report summary

Robert Mueller

Special counsel Robert Mueller sent the letter to Attorney General William Barr on March 27, three days after Barr issued his four-page summary. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Special counsel Robert Mueller wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr last month complaining that a four-page memo Barr wrote characterizing Mueller’s findings “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the special counsel’s Russia investigation, two senior Justice Department officials confirmed to POLITICO on Tuesday.

Mueller sent the letter to Barr on March 27, three days after Barr issued his four-page summary, and cited “public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation.” The letter was first reported by The Washington Post.

Story Continued Below

“This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations,” Mueller wrote.

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office, Peter Carr, declined to comment.

The letter will likely buoy congressional Democrats’ accusations that Barr mischaracterized Mueller’s report on purpose in order to protect the president. Its disclosure comes on the eve of Barr’s public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and amid a back-and-forth between the Justice Department and the House Judiciary Committee over whether committee staff can question Barr separately on Thursday.

The letter also reveals a widening gulf between Barr and Mueller, who have been friends for decades, and is a sign that the special counsel’s team was angry with how Barr characterized the findings.

A Justice Department spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, said in a statement that Barr called Mueller after receiving the letter to discuss it further.

“The Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading,” Kupec said. “But, he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the Special Counsel’s obstruction analysis. They then discussed whether additional context from the report would be helpful and could be quickly released. However, the Attorney General ultimately determined that it would not be productive to release the report in piecemeal fashion.”

“The Attorney General and the Special Counsel agreed to get the full report out with necessary redactions as expeditiously as possible,” Kupec’s statement continued. “The next day, the Attorney General sent a letter to Congress reiterating that his March 24 letter was not intended to be a summary of the report, but instead only stated the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions, and volunteered to testify before both Senate and House Judiciary Committees on May 1st and 2nd.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admonished Barr and demanded that he release an unredacted version of Mueller’s report.

“Attorney General Barr misled the public and owes the American people answers,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s time for DOJ to release the full report & all underlying docs — and finally allow Mueller to testify. Americans deserve the facts. Barr must stop standing in the way.“

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Barr needed to bring the special counsel’s March 27 letter with him on Wednesday.

“In light of Mueller’s letter, the misleading nature of Barr’s 4/10 testimony & 4/18 press conference is even more glaring,” Schumer tweeted. “Barr must bring the letter with him when he testifies in the Senate tomorrow. And it’s time for Mueller to testify publicly. Now.“

Barr is expected to tell lawmakers on Wednesday that he released his initial letter because “I determined that it was in the public interest for the department to announce the investigation’s bottom-line conclusions — that is, the determination whether a provable crime has been committed or not,” according to a prepared opening statement released late Tuesday.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, released a statement expressing outrage over the reports and demanded a copy of the letter by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

“The Attorney General has expressed some reluctance to appear before the House Judiciary Committee this Thursday,” Nadler said. “These reports make it that much more important for him to appear and answer our questions. The Department of Justice has also been reluctant to confirm a date for Special Counsel Mueller to testify. Given this evening’s reports, I will press the Department to schedule that hearing without delay.”

Nadler has been working to secure testimony from Mueller but there has been little back-and-forth with Justice Department officials to get it on the schedule.

Barr said at a news conference earlier this month that he had “no objection” to Mueller‘s appearing before Congress to discuss his report. Carr declined comment when asked about the status of talks to have Mueller testify to House Judiciary by May 23.

A spokesperson for Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee issued a statement defending the attorney general.

“Attorney General Barr released the special counsel’s report voluntarily, and with minimal redactions, to answer any questions about the context and substance of the special counsel’s investigation,” the statement said. “Recent media reports give us more reason than ever to have confidence in the attorney general by providing insight into how the attorney general and the special counsel successfully collaborated to navigate a very difficult and historically momentous situation, culminating in the release of the Mueller report, which provides the account of the special counsel’s investigation in the words of Mr. Mueller and his team. As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares for tomorrow’s hearing, House Democrats have another opportunity to put partisan politics aside and recognize Attorney General Barr has conducted himself in an exemplary manner.”

In his congressional testimony earlier this month, Barr made no mention of Mueller‘s complaining to him in a letter or in a phone call about the March 24 letter or the response to it.

“Reports have emerged recently, General, that members of the Special Counsel’s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24 letter,” Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) said at the April 10 hearing. “That it does not adequately or accurately, necessarily, portray the report’s findings. Do you know what they’re referencing with that?”

“No, I don’t,” Barr replied. “I think — I think — I suspect that they probably wanted, you know, more put out. But in my view, I was not interested in putting out summaries. … I think any summary regardless of who prepares it not only runs the risk of being underinclusive or overinclusive but also would trigger a lot of discussion and analysis that really should await everything coming out at once.”

A senior Justice Department official said on Tuesday that Barr was mystified by the letter Mueller and his team had sent objecting to Barr’s March 24 letter.

“The attorney general and his senior staff — they were very surprised at the complaint and at the frustration,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “They were actually shocked that there was a problem.”

Asked about lawmakers’ complaints that Barr’s statement to Crist was evasive, the senior official said that although the attorney general did not mention the letter directly, he was conveying the thrust of Mueller’s complaint about Barr’s letter.

“That is why he referenced the summary and said he was not interested in putting them out. … He was alluding to the letter,” the official said.

The official told POLITICO the phone call between Barr and Mueller on the issue was cordial, despite the attorney general’s difficulty fathoming the complaint. “They’ve been colleagues a long time and they dealt with it and that’s it,” the official said.

However, Mueller’s objection did contribute to Barr’s decision to send another letter to Congress on March 29 updating lawmakers on the review of the report and emphasizing that the March 24 letter was not intended as a “summary” of the report.

The official said Barr didn’t disclose Mueller’s letter or the conversation about it over the past month because he considered it internal communications between department officials. “Mueller works for Barr,” the official added.

Chuck Rosenberg, the former Acting Director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. who served as Mueller’s counsel while he was FBI director in the early 2000‘s, said it was “very rare“ for Justice Department officials to put anything in writing, as Mueller did.

“We are conditioned not to ‘go to paper,‘” Rosenberg said. “And the idea behind that is that we‘re all part of the same department and we‘re not trying to corner each other. There are times you get mad, or frustrated, and think someone is making a bad decision. But you pick up the phone and call them. I think I only went to paper a handful of times in 20 years at the Justice Department. In the time I worked for Bob in the FBI, I can‘t think of a time he did that.“

James Schultz, a former associate counsel in the Trump White House, in an interview Tuesday came to Barr’s defense on the March 24 letter.

“He needed to say something or there’d be this constant drumbeat,” Schultz said. “He gave an accurate depiction of it, but the fact that special counsel Mueller felt there wasn’t enough context, that’s the risk you run by being responsive early on.”

Indeed, the criticism of Barr, including calls from some Democrats for his resignation, were met with incredulity in some legal circles.

“Barr step down? Are you fucking insane?” said Sol Wisenberg, a former deputy on Kenneth Starr’s independent counsel investigation into President Bill Clinton.

Others went so far as to suggest Barr himself faces legal jeopardy.

“When our esteemed Attorney General of the United States testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow, if I were questioning him, I would start off by saying: ‘Sir, you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you. . . .,’” Gene Rossi, a former federal prosecutor from Virginia, said in an email to Politico.

Either way, some say Mueller’s letter has done significant damage to Barr’s credibility.

“We obviously need to see the letter, but I know it exists,” Greg Brower, the former head of the FBI congressional affairs office, said in an email. “I have been saying from the beginning that the worst thing Barr could do is mischaracterize the report. Well, now we have Mueller himself saying Barr did just that. NOT good.”

Julian Epstein, a former senior House Judiciary Committee Democratic aide who worked on the Clinton impeachment fight, said in an email: “The Mueller complaint that Barr skillfully spun his report to the news media will not change the overall arc of where Congress is headed, but underscores the cartoonish efforts to do damage control by playing press secretary rather than attorney general,”

“In so doing, Barr is completely misserving Trump’s interests by pouring more kerosene on a fire that has thus far consumed the Trump presidency.” Epstein added. “This was amateur hour by an AG we all thought was more a pro.”

Mueller’s chief complaint in the letter appeared to center on Barr’s characterization of the special counsel’s probe into potential obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump, and Barr’s refusal to release the executive summaries included in Mueller’s report. Barr quoted from portions of Mueller’s report in the four-page memo, and noted that the special counsel did not make a decision one way or another on whether the president had obstructed justice.

Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, however, came to their own conclusion, finding that “the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

Barr also held a news conference two hours before the final report was released to the public, announcing that Mueller had found “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia, despite Mueller’s assertion in the report that he not examine the evidence through the lens of “collusion” since that is not a legal term.

Mueller and his team notably stayed away from Barr’s news conference when he rolled out the release of the special counsel’s findings flanked by Rosenstein and Ed O’Callaghan, the acting principal associate deputy attorney general, who had the most frequent supervisor interactions with the Russia investigators.

Rosenstein submitted his resignation on Monday and is set to leave the Justice Department on May 11. He joked about the Barr news conference in a speech last week.

“Last week, the big topic of discussion was, ‘What were you thinking when you stood behind Bill Barr at that press conference, with a deadpan expression?’” Rosenstein said. “The answer is I was thinking, ‘My job is to stand here with a deadpan expression.’”

“Can you imagine if I did anything other than stand there at the press conference?” he added. “Imagine the reaction and the commentary if I had smiled or grimaced.”

Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said via text that he was “not aware” of Mueller’s letter to Barr. “If Mueller couldn’t make a decision on obstruction, there was no case,” Giuliani replied later Tuesday when asked for comment on the newly-disclosed dispute between the special counsel and attorney general. “He said he could not conclude that the President obstructed Justice. Case over. Who cares if he can’t exonerate him. He was appointed to make decisions not to punt. If he was unable to that tells everyone all they need to know. For a prosecutor, indecision is a decision.”

Four sources told Politico in early April that Mueller’s team was concerned with how the attorney general handled the rollout of the special counsel’s findings.

“Yeah, there was frustration with the summary and that there’s a hope that people have access to the actual underlying report,” a source familiar with conversations about the Barr letter said then. “I think it’s fair to say there was generalized frustration.”

One of those sources close to some of the Mueller prosecutors said in an interview after the report’s release last week that at least in the way of the redactions the special counsel’s team was satisfied.

“Ninety percent is in there, especially on the obstruction stuff,” the source said.

Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.

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64% oppose Trump’s move to build a wall; On asylum, just 30% support stricter rules

Americans by nearly 2 to 1 oppose Donald Trump’s attempts to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border and just three in 10 in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll support making it harder for undocumented immigrants to request asylum protection in the United States.

Interested in Immigration?

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Sixty-four percent oppose Trump declaring a national emergency in order to build a wall without congressional approval, while 34% back him. That includes 55% who “strongly” disapprove, vs. 28% who strongly support.

Views on immigration

See PDF for full results, charts and tables.

Just 30%, moreover, favor making it harder for undocumented immigrants to seek asylum, as Trump has proposed. Essentially as many, 27%, would make it easier, while 34% favor leaving the law as it is now.

Majority opposition to Trump’s policies stands even as a sense of the seriousness of the situation has risen. Thirty-five percent now see a crisis, up from 24% in January. That said, 64% still don’t ascribe to the president’s claim of a border crisis.

Overall, 57% in the poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, disapprove of how Trump is handling immigration, with 39% approving. (This matches Trump’s overall job approval rating.) Disapproval has eased a bit, from 62 percent when last tested in September 2017.

In a comparatively better result for Trump, the public divides about evenly on who’s mainly to blame for the border situation. Thirty-five percent chiefly blame the Democrats in Congress and 32% chiefly blame Trump, with an additional 27% blaming neither or both.


Views of the border situation as a crisis have risen across groups, but most steeply among Democrats, up 17 percentage points from 7% in January to 24% now. It’s up similarly, by 16 points, among Hispanics, from 20% in January to 36% now.

Seeing a crisis peaks among very conservative Americans, 62%; Republicans, 56%; rural residents, 54%; and evangelical white Protestants, 52%.

The immigration situation at the U.S.-Mexico Border.

Other opinions likewise are sharply partisan. But even among Republicans, just fewer than half, 46%, favor making it harder for undocumented immigrants to request asylum. Support for the idea is highest, 54%, among strong conservatives. That falls to a third of independents, a quarter of moderates and about one in seven Democrats and liberals alike.

Assignment of blame, for its part, may be a concern for Trump and his party looking ahead to the 2020 election. Whites blame the Democrats in Congress over the president for the immigration situation by a broad 43-23%. But nonwhites, a growing share of the population, see it quite differently. Blacks blame Trump over the congressional Democrats by 57-14%; Hispanics do so by 50-19%.

Further, whites only divide on Trump’s handling of immigration overall, 49-47%, approve-disapprove. Seventy-four percent of Hispanics, as well as 87% of blacks, disapprove.


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone April 22-25, 2019, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 29-26-36%, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling and data collection by Abt Associates of Rockville, Md. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

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Caster Semenya Q&A: Who is she; what is DSD; why is her case important?

Semenya is the fourth fastest woman of all time over 400m

Potentially one of the most pivotal moments in modern sport will occur not on a track, pitch or court, but in a plush office building in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Wednesday.

The Court of Arbitration in Sport (Cas) is expected to announce a verdict on one of athletics’ biggest names – South Africa’s Caster Semenya – and her right to compete as a woman.

Who is Caster Semenya?

Caster Semenya is one of the most dominant stars of modern athletics.

A double Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion over 800m, the 28-year-old South African has won her past 29 races over the distance.

However, since her meteoric rise from unknown teenager to world champion in 2009, her gender, and possible advantages in her biology, have come under scrutiny.

The results of gender testing carried out 10 years ago have not been made public, although media reports claimed it showed both male and female characteristics including a higher-than-normal level of testosterone.

Semenya wins 800m gold as Sharp comes eighth

The International Association of Athletics Federations, which runs the sport, proposed a rule to restrict the level of testosterone permitted in female runners in events between 400m and a mile.

Semenya is challenging the proposal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

A verdict is expected on Wednesday, 1 May, about 12:00 BST.

What are disorders/differences of sex development (DSD)?

People with a DSD do not develop along typical gender lines.

Their hormones, genes, reproductive organs may be a mix of male and female characteristics.

The term “disorders” is controversial with some of those affected preferring the term “intersex” and referring to “differences in sex development”.

What next after diagnosis?

Most people with a DSD stay with the gender they were assigned as a baby. However others, who feel their assigned gender doesn’t represent who they are, may choose to change their gender.

People with a DSD may be infertile and need hormone therapy and psychological support to help them come to terms with their condition.

What about elite athletes like Semenya?

Research commissioned by the IAAF showed in 2017 that female athletes with elevated testosterone had “a competitive advantage”, claiming that high testosterone was responsible for as much as 3% improvement in runners.

However those findings have been contested by Semenya and her team.

Caster Semenya: The full interview

They claim that it is not clear how much DSD athletes benefit from their naturally higher levels of testosterone.

During the early ’90s, Spanish hurdler Maria Jose Martinez-Patino successfully fought against a ban imposed after she was discovered to have XY chromosomes typically seen in men.

She demonstrated that her condition made her insensitive to the ‘excess’ testosterone in her blood.

Why is Semenya’s case so important?

Sport has traditionally been divided into male and female categories, but Semenya’s case and the science it has brought to the fore shows it may be an artificially binary distinction.

It has been suggested that, if the verdict goes against the IAAF, athletics might introduce an ‘open’ category that men and women could, in theory, compete in side by side, and a ‘protected’ category based on hormone levels, rather than gender.

Might Paralympic-style categories be introduced?

And what would be the ripple effect on other sports?

This is not a case about transgender. But one of the questions it raises is that transgender athletes – who have transitioned from one gender to another – might ask why they are obliged to alter their hormone levels when DSD athletes are free to compete without doing so.

And what about the future for Semenya if she loses the case and the IAAF’s hormone limits come into force?

A leading sport scientist has suggested she would be five to seven seconds slower over 800m if she reduces her testosterone in line with the proposed limits.

She could revert to a longer distance. She has run the 5,000m twice this season, winning on each occasion.

What they have said – the key quotes so far

IAAF president Lord Sebastian Coe: “No individual athlete has been targeted in the creation of the regulations.

“We need to create competition categories within our sport that ensures that success is determined by talent, dedication and hard work, rather than by other factors that are not considered fair or meaningful, such as the enormous physical advantages that an adult has over a child, or a male athlete has over a female athlete.”

Semenya: “I just want to run naturally, the way I was born.”

IAAF statement in February: “If a DSD athlete has testes and male levels of testosterone, they get the same increases in bone and muscle size and strength and increases in haemoglobin that a male gets when they go through puberty, which is what gives men such a performance advantage over women.

“Therefore, to preserve fair competition in the female category, it is necessary to require DSD athletes to reduce their testosterone down to female levels before they compete at international level.”

Former marathon world champion Paula Radcliffe: “There isn’t a fair answer – there’s no solution that is fair to everybody. It’s just trying to make fairness out of a situation that is pretty much impossible.”

South African Olympic 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk: “Caster is fighting for something beyond just track and field; she’s fighting for women in sports [and] in society.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council said that sporting bodies should “refrain from developing and enforcing policies and practices that force, coerce or otherwise pressure women and girl athletes into undergoing unnecessary, humiliating and harmful medical procedures in order to participate in women’s events in competitive sports”.

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