5 things for March 30: Russia probe, Syria, race & policing, ‘Serial’ new trial

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Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team last year made clear it wanted former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates’ help, not so much against his former business partner Paul Manafort but with its central mission: investigating the Trump campaign’s contact with the Russians. New information disclosed in court filings and to CNN this week begins to show how they’re getting it.
    The public saw the first signs of how the Mueller team plans to use information from Gates to tie Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, directly to a Russian intelligence agency. Mueller’s team alleges that Gates was in contact with a close colleague of Manafort’s who worked for a Russian intelligence agency — and that Gates knew of the spy service ties in September and October 2016, while he worked on the Trump campaign. 

      Who is Rick Gates?

    2. Syria

    President Trump said US troops would be getting out of Syria “very soon.” Well, that’s news to the Pentagon. Trump made his remarks in Ohio at an event on infrastructure. The President said, “We’re knocking the hell out of ISIS” and it was time to “let the other people” deal with Syria. A defense official said it’s just not clear what Trump meant, since he spoke just hours after the Pentagon highlighted numerous challenges in Syria, saying now’s not the time to get out.

      Syrian city’s displaced caught in limbo

    3. Race and policing

    Austin’s police chief called the Austin bomber a domestic terrorist; Stephon Clark was laid to rest in Sacramento. They were big developments in two of the biggest stories in a tragedy-filled month that says a lot about race and justice in the US. Anger had grown in Austin over the notion that the actions of bomber Mark Anthony Conditt, which led to the deaths of two African-Americans, weren’t being called terrorism because he was white, so the chief’s new view is significant.

      Hill: Black people are human beings, too

    Meanwhile, Clark’s attorney plans to reveal independent autopsy results today. Sacramento’s been hit with protests since he was shot and killed by police in his grandmother’s backyard. Cops had pursued him after getting reports of a man breaking into cars and thought he was pointing a gun at them, but only a cell phone was found near his body. Protesters say it’s another example of police being too quick to fire on black male suspects. Civil right attorney Benjamin Crump says this: “There’s an intellectual justification to always exonerate the police when they kill black people. We have to change that.”

      Rev. Sharpton: Shootings aren’t a local matter

    4. Pacific coast tragedy

    The mystery of what happened to the Hart family seems to grow by the day. We know the Harts — two moms with six adopted kids from Washington state — took a trip to California. The family’s SUV was found Monday at the bottom of a cliff on the Northern California coast, having tumbled 100 feet into the Pacific. The bodies of five family members, including the parents, were recovered. But three children are missing, and it’s not certain they were even in the vehicle.
    There were no brake or skid marks at the scene, so it’s unclear if this was deliberate or a tragic accident. One of the family’s neighbors described the kids as “repressed,” and authorities were investigating alleged child abuse and neglect. But others said Jennifer and Sarah Hart were loving moms. One of the missing children, 15-year-old Devonte, appeared in a viral photo in 2014, hugging an officer at a rally against police brutality.

    5. ‘Serial’ new trial

    The man at the center of the popular “Serial” podcast might get a new trial. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals ordered a new trial for Adnan Syed, who’s serving a life sentence in the death of his ex-girlfriend. His conviction was vacated in 2016 amid claims his trial lawyer failed to cross-examine an expert witness. The state appealed the 2016 order, leading to Thursday’s ruling. But it’s not a done deal. Prosecutors have 30 days to appeal or proceed with a new trial. Syed’s case burst into public view in 2014 when “Serial” — which has been downloaded 40 million times — explored a possible alibi.

      Who is Adnan Syed?

    HAPPENING LATER

    Alton Sterling shooting
    A decision on whether two Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police officers will be fired for their roles in Alton Sterling’s shooting death is expected this afternoon.

      Alton Sterling’s family speaks out after AG announcement

    BREAKFAST BROWSE

    NK-pop
    The (seemingly) warming relations between the two Koreas involves more than just nukes. The South’s pop stars will rock the North with a concert this weekend.

      South Korean stars prepare to rock Pyongyang

    One last ride
    If you’ve never seen Danica Patrick drive, you’re running out of chances. The racing trailblazer’s last race is in May at the Indy 500.
    Fitting tribute
    Draylen Mason, who died in the Austin bombings, never got to go to college. Now, there’s an effort to make sure other minority students can.
    That’s a lot of Bitcoin
    A cryptocurrency company’s cool $29 million donation is fulfilling classroom wishes posted by 28,000 teachers at a crowd-funding site.
    A solid start
    How should you treat the first pitch of baseball season? Like the Cubs’ Ian Happ did — and drive it over the right field fence.

    THIS JUST IN …

    Apple update
    The new iOS 11.3 mobile operating system lets you see yourself as an animated bear — or just stop your older iPhone from slowing down.

    TOTAL RECALL

    Quiz time
    The granddaughter of which civil rights icon spoke at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington?
    A. Rosa Parks
    B. Martin Luther King Jr.
    C. Daisy Bates
    D. Malcolm X
    Play “Total Recall,” CNN’s weekly news quiz, to see if you got it right.

    TODAY’S NUMBER

    150 million
    The number of MyFitnessPal accounts hacked. Hackers made off with user names, email addresses and passwords.

    AND FINALLY

    ‘Best day of my life!’
    If you just got a doughnut and a new “My Little Pony” movie, you’d be freaking ecstatic, too. (Click to view.)

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