It’s Friday, March 8, 2019. Let’s start here.
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1. Mana-forty-seven months
A federal judge in Virginia sentenced Paul Manafort, a former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, to almost four years in prison for crimes related to tax and bank fraud.
The sentence is substantially less than suggested guidelines of 19 to 24 years. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis called that sentencing range “excessive” and said Manafort “lived an otherwise blameless life.”
Manafort’s legal troubles aren’t over. He’s due back in court next week in Washington for a sentencing on the additional federal charges brought by the special counsel’s office in September 2018.
Katherine Faulders, who was inside the courtroom on Thursday, joins ABC News colleagues Aaron Katersky and Chris Vlasto to break down what happened.
2. Brown out
Several big-name Democrats decided this week not to enter the party’s already-crowded 2020 field.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced on Thursday he wouldn’t be running for president, saying the Senate provided him the best opportunity to fight for the working class. Earlier in the week, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also said they wouldn’t be running.
Brown’s announcement came as a surprise to many 2020 observers, but, according to ABC News Political Director Rick Klein, it could prove to be good news for former Vice President Joe Biden, who still hasn’t announced whether he’ll join the fray.
3. Journalist freed
Following public outcry, American journalist Cody Weddle is back in the U.S. after he was arrested and deported by the Venezuelan government.
Weddle, who filed reports from Caracas for outlets including ABC News, said his home was raided by Venezuelan authorities on Wednesday. Weddle’s assistant, Carlos Camacho, also was detained for about 12 hours, according to Venezuela’s National Union of Press Workers.
The arrests are part of a larger campaign by Nicolas Maduro’s regime to remain in power, according to ABC News Chief National Correspondent Matt Gutman, who had his own run-in with the Venezuelan government.
“This is business as usual,” he tells us.
In other news:
‘Leonel Marines was not utilizing this data for law enforcement purposes whatsoever’: The FBI is investigating a former cop in Florida accused of misusing police databases and flaunting his badge to pursue at least 150 women, some of whom he had sex with while on duty.
‘Certain individuals and organizations which spread misinformation and instill fear into the public for their own gain selfishly put countless people at risk’: Facebook says it’s cracking down on false social media posts about vaccines.
‘It’s actually not good for their own property to clear cut trees like that’: The president’s golf course in Virginia is cited for some illegal landscaping.
From our partners at FiveThirtyEight:
Tacko Fall is 7-foot-6. And he’s breaking basketball.: Fall can dunk without his feet leaving the floor.
Inside the alleged scheme Insys Therapeutics used to sell opioids: Part 1: A criminal indictment and hundreds of lawsuits accuse the company of coaxing doctors with money and sexual favors to prescribe a spray for severe cancer pain.
Former Insys employee says company asked them to lie to insurance reps: Part 2: Patty Nixon said the company would ask employees to pose as someone from a doctor’s office to misrepresent diagnoses to insurance reps.
On this day in history:
March 8, 2014 — Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappears while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The must-see photo:
A man stands inside a restaurant during a blackout in Caracas, Venezuela. (photo credit: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)
For more great photos from around the world CLICK HERE.
A moose was spotted walking on the roof of a carport in Prince George, British Columbia.
All right, you’re off and running. Get the latest news on ABCNews.com and on the ABC News app. Details on how to subscribe to “Start Here” are below. See you Monday.
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