/Start Here: Muellers early Cohen interest, FDA approves postpartum depression drug

Start Here: Muellers early Cohen interest, FDA approves postpartum depression drug


It’s Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Let’s start here.

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1. But his emails

Newly released search warrants from FBI raids on Michael Cohen’s properties have revealed President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer was one of the Russia investigation’s earliest targets.

Robert Mueller sought Cohen’s emails in July 2017, just two months after the special counsel was appointed and nine months before the raids in April, according to documents unsealed by a federal judge in New York.

The documents also offer details on Cohen’s personal financial crimes, including an alleged scheme to defraud multiple banks as he faced $22 million in debt.

The docs also contain major redactions related to Cohen’s recent guilty pleas, a sign the investigation into hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels remain active, ABC News’ Aaron Katersky says on “Start Here.”

PHOTO: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trumps former personal attorney, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on March 6, 2019.Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on March 6, 2019.

2. Postpartum breakthrough

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first medication specifically for postpartum depression, which affects about 1 in 9 mothers.

Under supervision, a woman prescribed Zulresso — the new medication from Sage Therapeutics — would get a 60-hour intravenous infusion at a health care facility, a treatment that could cost $35,000.

The drug is a “massive” development in treating postpartum depression, ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton says on “Start Here,” although she questions whether insurance companies will cover it.

3. Another Boeing story

Boeing is facing another hurdle to get its 737 max 8 aircraft back in the sky after two deadly crashes in five months.

The Department of Transportation’s inspector general will audit the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval process for the Max 8, specifically to determine whether there was pressure to certify the jet and its new flight control system, ABC News Senior Transportation Correspondent David Kerley tells “Start Here.”

“The big question is,” Kerley says, “is Boeing too cozy with its regulators, the FAA?”

In a statement to ABC News, Boeing said it would “fully cooperate” with the audit.

PHOTO: A Boeing Co. 737 Max 8 plane is seen at the companys manufacturing facility in Renton, Washington, March 12, 2019.Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE
A Boeing Co. 737 Max 8 plane is seen at the company’s manufacturing facility in Renton, Washington, March 12, 2019.

4. ‘Apocalyptic’

Days after a cyclone in southern Africa ripped off rooftops, flooded villages and knocked down power lines and trees, humanitarian aid workers are still determining the full extent of the damage.

World Food Program Chief Communications Officer Deborah Nguyen describes an “apocalyptic” and “desperate” scene on the ground in Beira, Mozambique.

“We felt like we fell into a black hole where we were completely cut off from the rest of the world,” she says on today’s podcast.

PHOTO: A man cleans up a destroyed house, March 19, 2019, in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, as a hundred houses were damaged by the Cyclone Idai.Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images
A man cleans up a destroyed house, March 19, 2019, in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, as a hundred houses were damaged by the Cyclone Idai.

Elsewhere:

‘He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name’: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asks everyone to “speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them” in a mass shooting.

‘Getting rid of the electoral college’: ABC News contributor Matthew Dowd argues that Elizabeth Warren’s position on choosing the president by popular vote “is not radical, it is actually mainstream.”

‘We were hoping for $400,000 or $500,000’: A real estate mogul pays $1.4 million for a racing pigeon.

From our friends at FiveThirtyEight:

It’s that time of year. Somewhere, someone in your office, or your school, or your local bar is crafting a March Madness pool, and while we all want that perfect-bracket glory, it’s incredibly tough to pull off. But FiveThirtyEight is here to help.

Geoff Foster, FiveThirtyEight’s sports editor, appeared on ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast this week and he says forget perfection — just be ruthlessly committed to getting more points than everyone else. First, he says, ignore everyone telling you to pick a bunch of 12 seeds in the first round. You get one right, hooray, you get a point or two. But if you pick favorites, your chances go up later.

“You just don’t want to lose your Final Four,” he said. “You almost really should do a bracket backwards. I tend to do this. I fill in my Final Four, and then I just work to the outer edges from there.”

PHOTO: Dukes Zion Williamson goes up to dunk against Florida State during the first half of the NCAA college basketball championship game of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, March 16, 2019.Chuck Burton/AP
Duke’s Zion Williamson goes up to dunk against Florida State during the first half of the NCAA college basketball championship game of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, March 16, 2019.

Another piece of advice: Don’t pick a 10-seed to win it all.

“This,” he adds, “is my rule of thumb: “You add up the little seeds of the final four. You want that number to be around 10 to 15. Yeah, the little seed. So if you have two 4s, a 2 and a 1 you’re right in that 10-to-15 range.”

Read more 2019 March Madness predictions for the men’s and women’s tournaments here.

And read more about FiveThirtyEight’s take on Mike Trout’s reported $430 million deal with the Angels — the richest professional sports contract of all time.

Doff your cap:

“You’re stuck on a deserted island and you can pick one of these Sesame Street friends to come with you. Who are you picking and why?”

This question, posed by the “Sesame Street” Twitter account, seems to be just another sweet conversation starter — until it set Twitter on fire.

The question prompted thousands of impassioned responses from the everyday fans and celebrities, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Even Grover himself weighed in:

So who was the favorite? ABC News’ Tony Morrison gives us the full debrief.

“Start Here” is the flagship daily news podcast from ABC News — a straightforward look at the day’s top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or the ABC News app. On Amazon Echo, ask Alexa to “Play ‘Start Here'” or add the “Start Here” skill to your Flash Briefing. Follow @StartHereABC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for exclusive content and show updates.

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