Happy Monday! Because the vessel was unmanned, we feel less bad chuckling at Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft crashing into the south pole of the moon over the weekend—or ceasing “to exist as a result of a collision with the surface,” as Russia’s space agency put it.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Denmark and the Netherlands will both provide Ukraine with U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced during a tour of a Dutch air force base with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen confirmed her country would provide 19 warplanes over the course of the next two years. The timeline for the initial delivery of the long-awaited planes depends on training Ukrainian pilots and developing the infrastructure for the planes in Ukraine.
- The Biden administration on Friday extended temporary protected legal status for Ukrainians in the United States “beginning on October 20, 2023, and ending on April 19, 2025.” The order allows more than 180,000 Ukrainians who were in the country before August 16 to live and work in the U.S. legally using the Secretary of Homeland Security’s parole authority.
- Tropical Storm Hilary weakened from a hurricane before making landfall in Mexico on Sunday, but is still expected to dump a historic amount of rain on the American southwest, causing catastrophic and potentially deadly flooding in the typically rain-starved region, according to the National Hurricane Center. More than 9 million people were under a flash flood warning across the region as of Sunday night. Meanwhile, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck near Ojai, California, on Sunday, rattling the southern part of the state but not seeming to cause any major damage.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell said Sunday that search efforts on the island of Maui, Hawaii, were 78 percent complete after devastating fires ripped through the town of Lahaina earlier this month. The Defense Department, meanwhile, promised Friday to deploy 700 servicemembers and 140 Coast Guardsmen to the island to aid with recovery. The death toll currently stands at more than 110 people as the head of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, Herman Andaya, resigned Thursday, amid mounting criticism for not activating emergency sirens on the island as wildfires spread. Andaya defended his decision last week, saying his agency uses the sirens primarily for tsunamis and that he was concerned activating the sirens would have sent people fleeing to higher ground, toward the fires. Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez launched an investigation into the agency’s decision-making.
- Speaking to special counsel Jack Smith’s investigators, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reportedly contradicted former President Donald Trump’s repeated claim that he declassified the sensitive documents allegedly found at his Mar-a-Lago resort after he left office. ABC News reported that Meadows—who is now one of Trump’s co-defendants in a Fulton County, Georgia, indictment—undermined his former boss’ chief public defense against federal chargers over his mishandling of the classified files, telling them he could not recall the president ordering or discussing the documents’ declassification. Former Vice President Mike Pence also said Sunday he had no memory of such an order before the end of the Trump administration.
- A Delaware federal judge on Thursday dismissed two misdemeanor tax charges against Hunter Biden—President Joe Biden’s son—at the request of federal prosecutors, who signaled they may bring the same or additional charges after the plea deal between Biden and prosecutors fell apart in July. A New York Times report on the deal suggested Hunter Biden was only charged with the tax misdemeanors due to pressure from Internal Revenue Service whistleblowers, who came forward to allege the Justice Department was declining to prosecute for political reasons.
- Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson claimed Sunday he qualified for a podium on the GOP primary debate stage August 23 on Fox News. Hutchinson, a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump, also said he would sign the Republican National Committee’s loyalty pledge to the eventual nominee. Six other candidates have also qualified for the debate, though Trump—currently the frontrunner—has said he will skip the debate to instead release a taped interview with Tucker Carlson, despite the urging of top Fox News executives.
- Pascale Ferrier, a Canadian woman, was sentenced to almost 22 years in prison Thursday for mailing letters laced with the deadly toxin ricin to former President Donald Trump and several Texas law enforcement officials in 2020. Investigators also found eight letters to Texas law enforcement officials she blamed for a previous detention in the state. The letter to Trump, which called on him to drop out of the 2020 presidential race and threatened further violence if the ricin was unsuccessful, was intercepted at an 0ff-site screening facility before it reached the White House.
- James L. Buckley—former U.S. Senator, Under Secretary of State, D.C. Circuit Court judge, and older brother of William F. Buckley, Jr.—died Friday at 100 years old. The plaintiff in a case challenging campaign finance law, his victory laid the groundwork for the landmark Citizens United v. FEC ruling in 2010.
Diplomatic Summer Camp
It’s been a while since we’ve had a good, old-fashioned Camp David summit. The casual dresscode, the peaceful, wooded surroundings—meetings at the president’s Maryland mountain retreat seem to inspire a sense of optimism.
That certainly seemed to be the case for President Joe Biden. After meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Friday, the U.S. president promised the trio would convene annually “from this point on; not just this year, not next year—forever.” He quickly added a caveat to his promise—“that’s the intention”—as if suddenly remembering the presidential election next year that could upend his plans.
Friday’s historic trilateral meeting ended an eight-year dry spell for Camp David-diplomacy dating back to former President Barack Obama’s colloquy with Gulf state leaders in 2015. The tête-à-tête was the first standalone summit between the three countries, and one that was unthinkable even a few years ago given Seoul’s well-grounded animosity toward its onetime colonizer in Tokyo. The meeting—and the increased security and economic cooperation that emerged from it—reflects the Biden administration’s approach to alliances in a tense geopolitical reality, bringing former enemies together against common foes in North Korea and China.