'Start Here': Dems and Mueller can't agree, abortion laws protested, McDonald's sued

It's Wednesday, May 22, 2019. Let's start here.

1. Decisions, decisions

House Democrats and special counsel Robert Mueller are struggling to reach an agreement over his anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill.

Democrats rejected a proposal by Justice Department officials to have Mueller give a public opening statement before answering questions behind closed doors, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations. Democrats prefer Mueller answer at least some questions about his findings in public, but they haven't ruled out closed-door testimony for portions of the exchange.

The special counsel has been reluctant to enter the political fray, ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce says on "Start Here."

"Mueller is cognizant and cautious here because he knows that this could become such a highly charged political event," Bruce tells us.

The White House also continues to defy congressional subpoenas, prompting growing calls among House Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far resisted the pressure and is expected to hold a meeting with members today to discuss oversight efforts and investigations.

2. Abortion protests

Abortion-rights advocates rallied across the U.S. on Tuesday to protest new laws in multiple states that effectively ban the procedure.

Democratic presidential hopefuls were spotted joining protesters on the steps of the Supreme Court as the political battle has become a unifying issue for the party ahead of the 2020 election, according to ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks.

"Even those Democrats from the middle of the country who've tried to stake out a moderate lane in the crowded 2020 presidential primary, they've been showing zero hesitation to stand with those that are pushing for abortion access in this moment," Parks says.

3. Not McLovin' it

McDonald's is facing 25 lawsuits or federal complaints from workers who claim they were sexually harassed on the job -- both at franchise locations and at corporate offices.

Several women who reported harassment by managers said they also experienced retaliation and in some cases were fired, according to a press release by the TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund.

McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook, in a letter shared with ABC News, said the company "is committed to ensuring a harassment and bias-free workplace" and has made changes including implementing training for front-line employees and franchise operators, and creating a hotline for reporting complaints.

4. 'Obscurity, if not anonymity'

The House Oversight Committee is set to hold a hearing on facial recognition technology today as civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union raise privacy concerns.

"Historically, when you're out in public, you have some reasonable expectation of obscurity, if not anonymity, and this technology, the argument goes, really changes that," Tom Simonite, a senior writer for WIRED, says on "Start Here."

Last week, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban law enforcement and government agencies from using facial recognition technology.

"Start Here," ABC News' flagship podcast, offers 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. Follow @StartHereABC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for exclusive content and show updates.

Elsewhere:

'A low IQ idiot': The nation of North Korea, using words also used by the president of the United States of America, criticizes Joseph Robinette Biden.

'He thought I was referring to a chocolate sandwich cookie': Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, confuses REOs, a real estate term, with Oreos, not a real estate term.

'A predator in uniform': A prison guard is accused of sexually assaulting four inmates.

Meow: A kitten is saved.

From our friends at FiveThirtyEight:

The strange dynasty of the San Francisco Giants is over. (Yes, it was a dynasty.): The Giants still have five players left over from their 2014 championship season, but the returns have diminished greatly since then.

Doff your cap:

Austrian Niki Lauda, Formula One legend and three-time World Championship winner, died at the age of 70.

The grandson of a wealthy industrialist, Lauda renounced his inheritance in order to pursue a career in racing, according to his Formula One obituary. He won his first World Championship in 1975 with Ferrari. He would go on to win two more world titles -- in 1977 with Ferrari and in 1984 with McLaren -- and won a total of 25 Grand Prix races.

At the height of his rivalry with fellow Formula One driver James Hunt -- the subject of the 2013 movie "Rush" -- Lauda suffered a harrowing crash at the notorious Nürburgring track during the 1976 German Grand Prix -- his Ferrari burst into flames with him trapped in the cockpit.

Lauda, known for his resilience, reappeared at a press conference a few weeks later, his wounds still fresh. He missed only two races before returning to the track 40 days after the crash. He lost the World Championship that year to Hunt by a single point.
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