A Fruitless Debt Ceiling Summit
Happy Wednesday! Congratulations to Buddy Holly the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen for taking home Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show last night.
We would have probably gone with Winston the French Bulldog, but the judges couldn’t possibly have made a bad choice.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- A Manhattan jury on Tuesday found former President Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming E. Jean Carroll, awarding her $5 million in damages in the civil case. Carroll—a journalist and author—claimed Trump had raped her in the dressing room of an upscale New York City department store in 1996, but the jury found she did not sufficiently prove that charge. In a Truth Social post, Trump complained that he was not allowed to “speak or defend myself”—a false claim—and vowed to appeal.
- Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested Tuesday by Pakistan’s anti-corruption force, sparking protests around the country that have already left at least one person dead. Khan was ousted last year in a no-confidence vote, which he claims was orchestrated in part by the country’s military. Pakistan’s interior minister said yesterday the corruption charges are related to the purchase of land by a charitable trust run by Khan and his wife.
- The Defense Department announced a $1.2 billion security assistance package for Ukraine on Tuesday, tapping into the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative to purchase weaponry and systems directly from American weapons manufacturers to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses. The move represents a longer-term commitment to Ukraine’s defense, as the materiel purchased from manufacturers must be built before it can be shipped to the battlefield—unlike aid authorized under presidential drawdown authority, which comes directly from existing U.S. military stockpiles. The announcement comes amid an ongoing Russian aerial bombardment of Ukraine ahead of a long-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive.
- The Justice Department announced Tuesday it had disrupted a sophisticated Russian cyberespionage system—called Snake—responsible for stealing documents and diplomatic communications from NATO allies and other Russian intelligence targets in more than 50 countries. U.S. cyber and intelligence agencies—joined by the English-speaking countries which are members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing agreement—issued an advisory with information about how to detect infiltration by Snake malware.
- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released draft guidance on Tuesday recommending women be screened for breast cancer every other year after the age of 40, updating their 2016 guidance which recommended regular screenings beginning at 50 years old. The task force points to new research indicating a 2 percent uptick in the breast cancer rates for women 40-49 years old between 2015 and 2019.
- The National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday the median existing-home sales price in the U.S. was $371,200 in the first quarter of 2023—down 0.2 percent year-over-year from Q1 2022, and the first annual price decline in the first quarter since 2012. Single-family home sales prices fell in nearly a third of U.S. metro areas in Q1. San Francisco, Austin, Boise, and Phoenix experienced some of the sharpest declines.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis cut ties with his state political committee Tuesday, a crucial and required step ahead of announcing a presidential campaign. DeSantis also notched endorsements yesterday from Steve Cortes—a former campaign advisor to Trump—and Republican Rep. Bob Good of Virginia. DeSantis has now been backed by four members of Congress, while dozens of federal lawmakers have committed to supporting Trump.
- Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California returned to Washington on Tuesday evening after a three-month absence due to a shingles diagnosis in February. Feinstein didn’t make it back in time for yesterday’s votes, but her return restores Democrats’ full majority in the Senate, allowing them to once again break ties on the Senate Judiciary Committee and advance President Joe Biden’s judicial nominations. The senator, 89, missed 91 floor votes during her absence.
- Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Tuesday he is launching a show—a “new version of the show we’ve been doing for six-and-a-half years”—on Twitter. The move may represent a violation of his contract with Fox, but lawyers for Carlson sent a letter to the network alleging Fox breached the contract first by firing him last month.
Four Lawmakers Walk Into the Oval Office
At yesterday’s much-anticipated White House meeting between the president and congressional leadership, Joe Biden kicked off the discussion with a joke: “We’re going to get started. We’re going to solve all the world’s problems.” That’s how you get ahead in Washington: Overpromise, underdeliver.
Tuesday’s meeting between Biden and the congressional “Big Four”—House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries—represented the first step in negotiations to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a default since House Republicans narrowly passed their debt bill last month. But the two sides still remain far apart on how to resolve the standoff—and time is running low.