‘An Act of Sheer Evil’

Happy Wednesday. It took four days and multiple attempts, but Harvard University’s leadership on Tuesday finally condemned Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel after dozens of student groups issued an open letter that held “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” Veritas, indeed.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Israeli death toll from the Hamas attack climbed to at least 1,200 people on Tuesday as the Israeli military continued its aerial campaign against Hamas—in which more than 900 Gazans have reportedly been killed. Hamas continued its rocket fire into a fourth straight day, targeting cities and towns across southern and central Israel from Gaza. Missiles and mortars were launched into northern Israel from Lebanon and Syria yesterday, but no damage or casualties were reported from the strikes. President Joe Biden confirmed Tuesday that United States citizens are among the hostages held in Gaza by Hamas, and that at least 14 Americans have been killed in the attack. The president went on to describe the onslaught as an “act of sheer evil” in a speech reiterating U.S. support for Israel.
  • House Republicans held a closed-door candidate forum on Tuesday evening to consider bids for speaker from Reps. Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise. Allies of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reportedly discussed the prospect of renominating him going into the meeting, but after teasing another bid for two days, McCarthy took himself out of the process, telling reporters that he’d support whichever candidate is selected. A conference vote on the speaker nominee is scheduled for 10 a.m. today.
  • The United States on Tuesday formally designated Niger’s military takeover in July a “coup.” While other nations with military deployments in the country, namely France, were quick to label the new military junta coupists, the U.S. held off on the designation as it holds legal consequences for American economic and military aid. With the designation, the State Department will halt most assistance to Niger, excluding humanitarian relief. Approximately 1,000 American military personnel will remain stationed in Niger at two bases. 
  • The United Nations General Assembly voted on Tuesday against Russia’s attempt to rejoin the UN’s Human Rights Council. Russia was competing against Albania and Bulgaria for two Eastern European seats on the panel, but lost out on both available slots. The General Assembly ousted Russia from the body in April 2022 after its invasion of Ukraine. Still, 83 countries voted in a secret ballot for Russia to rejoin. 
  • Prosecutors in the federal election interference case against former President Donald Trump asked the judge in their case to take measures to protect jurors’ identity, requesting “certain limited restrictions” on how parties in the case can research and use information on jurors during jury selection and the trial. “Given that the defendant—after apparently reviewing opposition research on court staff—chose to use social media to publicly attack a court staffer, there is cause for concern about what he may do with social media research on potential jurors in this case,” the prosecutors wrote in a filing on Tuesday, referencing Trump’s targeting of a clerk to the judge in his New York civil fraud case. Trump suggested, without evidence, that the staffer in question was romantically involved with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and was issued a partial gag order in response to the falsehood.
  • Former Rep. Thomas Suozzi announced on Tuesday a bid to unseat Republican Rep. George Santos in 2024. Suozzi, a Long Island Democrat, previously held the seat for three terms before Santos flipped it in 2022—he resigned from the seat last year to run unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for New York governor last year. The Justice Department filed a superseding indictment against Santos yesterday, charging the congressman with 23 counts of fraud, conspiracy, and identity theft. “As alleged, Santos is charged with stealing people’s identities and making charges on his own donors’ credit cards without their authorization, lying to the FEC and, by extension, the public about the financial state of his campaign,” said Breon Peace, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Santos was originally indicted in May, and yesterday’s indictment included all 13 of the original charges plus 10 additional charges.
  • Steve Garvey, the former Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres first baseman, announced Tuesday he is running to fill the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat in the upper chamber. “It’s time to get off the bench,” Garvey said in his announcement video. “It’s time to put the uniform on. It’s time to get back in the game.” Garvey, running as a Republican, will compete against the three Democratic lawmakers currently in the race: Reps. Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee, and Katie Porter. Democratic Sen. Laphonza Butler, whom Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed to fill Feinstein’s seat, has not said whether she will run for a full term.*

Steadfast Western Support, So Far 

U.S. President Joe Biden, joined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, delivers remarks on the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel in the State Dining Room of the White House October 10, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
U.S. President Joe Biden, joined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, delivers remarks on the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel in the State Dining Room of the White House October 10, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Shortly before 2:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, President Joe Biden ambled to a lectern in the White House’s State Dining Room and delivered what even many harsh critics of his administration would later praise as one of the strongest statements of support for Israel to ever come from the building. “You know, there are moments in this life—and I mean this literally—when the pure, unadulterated evil is unleashed on this world,” he said in his televised speech yesterday afternoon, joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “The people of Israel lived through one such moment this weekend. The bloody hands of the terrorist organization Hamas—a group whose stated purpose for being is to kill Jews. This was an act of sheer evil.”

He then confirmed that at least 14 American citizens had been killed in the attacks, and that Americans rank among the dozens of hostages taken by Hamas.

The president’s remarks came on the fourth day of the Israel-Hamas war, as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) continued to position troops at the Gaza border and carry out airstrikes on Hamas positions while rocket fire from Gaza rained down on Israeli territory. Biden’s rhetoric is thus far indicative of Western leaders’ steadfast and united backing for Israel in this time of crisis, but as the IDF prepares for a long and brutal war, how long such support lasts is an open question.

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