'Start Here': Barr declines Day 2, Maduro holds on, Dems push policy

Here's what you need to know to start your day.

It's Thursday, May 2, 2019. Let's start here.

1. Barr tabs

Attorney General William Barr is passing on a second round of testimony on Capitol Hill today, objecting to the hearing format imposed by House Democrats.

The House Judiciary Committee wanted panel lawyers to question him in the wake of the newly released letter special counsel Robert Mueller sent Barr in March that criticized the attorney general's decision to release his own summary of the report's conclusions. A statement from the Department of Justice called the committee's conditions "unprecedented and unnecessary."

Barr was grilled by Senate Democrats over the letter on Wednesday, but he dismissed much of the criticism, calling Mueller's letter "a bit snitty" and suggesting it was written by a staffer. Republicans defended Barr, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., rejected Democrats' calls for Mueller to testify.

"The concern from Democrats is that Barr was able to frame the narrative in a way that they say supported the president," ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce tells "Start Here." "He was given several weeks to frame all of this before everyone had a chance to read the redacted report and to discover all the new questions that the redacted report raised."

2. Maduro defiant

Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro is refusing to step down amid calls for an uprising and massive opposition protests in the streets of Caracas.

U.S.-backed interim leader Juan Guaido declared this the "final phase" of the regime led by Maduro, who still appears to have the military's support.

"Both sides have got their heels dug in," Senior Foreign Correspondent Ian Pannell tells us. "There are no easy options, no easy answers -- all we can say for certain at the moment is neither side is prepared to give way. And while that's true, people will carry on protesting and dying."

3. Policy primary

Is policy the key to winning the Democratic primary?

Several candidates are focused on pushing out multiple proposals on issues including health care, climate change and immigration to try and sway voters, particularly millennials and younger voters.

"These are extensive policy positions with a lot of detail, a lot of wonk-factor, that we're getting early on because I think the candidates know that voters are interested in it," Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks says on today's podcast.

It's a strategy 2020 hopefuls like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., are testing to develop an early ground game, rather than focusing too much on President Donald Trump.

"You don't just want to convince someone to like you," Parks says, "you want to convince someone at this stage to give you money, to be willing to knock on doors and campaign for you."

"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.


'It's concerning to me that the president of the United States would retweet someone without having any knowledge of who they are, because, like it or not, a retweet can be perceived as an endorsement': The president of the United States of America retweets dozens of anti-Joe Biden tweets.

'Obviously some of his past writings are of concern': Even some Republicans are not excited about the idea of Stephen Moore joining the Fed.

'Thought he was going to go to his grave without any resolution': DNA scavenged from a cigarette butt leads to an arrest in a 1994 murder case.

'Disdain for the law of this country': Julian Assange is sentenced to almost a year in jail.

From our friends at FiveThirtyEight:

Are any of MLB's breakout teams for real?: No team has improved its playoff odds more in April than the Tampa Bay Rays, who had a 42% shot at the postseason on opening day but as of Tuesday boasted a 74% chance to make the playoffs.

Doff your cap:

In his first live interview since revealing his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis earlier this year, legendary host Alex Trebek stopped by "Good Morning America" on Wednesday to update fans on his ongoing health battle.

Trebek, who's spent 35 years hosting "Jeopardy," told Robin Roberts, herself a cancer survivor, "It's great to be considered an inspiration to people."

"People all over America have been sharing their good thoughts, their advice, their prayers," he said. "And I feel it's been making a difference."

"I've had so many contacts from people who have survived cancer," Trebek, 78, added. "I am now a 30-day survivor. ... I'm going to catch up to those other people."

And as for James Holzhauer, a trailblazing "Jeopardy" champion setting and breaking records at an incomparable pace, Trebek said "Jeopardy James" has forced him to reconsider something he once believed impossible.

"He has forced me to change a view that I've had for many years," Trebek said, "that the Ken Jennings record will never be broken."