Good Will Hunter

Happy Friday! We’re not saying we’re to thank for China’s announcement that more pandas may be sent to the U.S. as “envoys of friendship,” but we’re not not saying it, either.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said yesterday they had discovered the body of Judith Weiss, who lived in Kibbutz Be’eri and was kidnapped by Hamas, on Wednesday near Al-Shifa hospital. Weiss, 65, was being treated for breast cancer before she was abducted on October 7—though it’s unclear whether she died in captivity or was already dead when taken from the kibbutz. The Israeli military had been closing in on the hospital for days, and IDF officials have released videos purporting to show Hamas weaponry and tunnels discovered within and underneath the complex—U.S. intelligence officials have reportedly echoed the claim that Hamas has a “command node” under the Al-Shifa hospital. “Hamas does use hospitals, along with a lot of other civilian facilities, for command-and-control, for storing weapons, for housing its fighters,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said earlier this week. “Without getting into this specific hospital or that specific claim, this is Hamas’ track record, both historically and in this conflict.”
  • Rep. George Santos of New York announced Thursday he would not run for reelection after a House Ethics Committee report found he “sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit,” including by using campaign funds in ways that broke federal law. Santos, who survived a vote earlier this month to expel him from Congress, may now face another expulsion vote before his term ends in early 2025. He is also facing a 23-count federal indictment accusing him of wire fraud, credit card fraud, and aggravated identity theft. 
  • Politico reported Wednesday that Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, a Democrat, is investigating Republicans who falsely claimed to be genuine electors for former President Donald Trump in 2020; Joe Biden won the state that year by more than 2 percentage points. Similarly “false electors” are already facing charges in Georgia and Michigan, and an investigation is ongoing in Arizona.
  • A New York appeals court judge temporarily paused the gag order on Donald Trump on Thursday, pending a longer appeals process, citing concerns about the former president’s free speech rights. Trump had been fined twice under the order imposed by Judge Arthur Engoron last month in the former president’s civil fraud case; it restricted him from making disparaging comments about Engoron and his staff. 
  • A California jury on Thursday convicted David DePape of two federal crimes for breaking into former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s house and attacking her husband Paul with a hammer last year. DePape could face decades in prison for one count of assault on the immediate family member of a federal official and one count of attempted kidnapping of a federal official. Nancy Pelosi was in Washington, D.C., at the time of her husband’s attack.
  • The Ventura County, California, Sheriff’s Office arrested college professor Loay Abdelfattah Alnaji on Thursday on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Paul Kessler, a 69-year-old Jewish man who died earlier this month after suffering a head injury during an altercation at dueling pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel rallies in Thousand Oaks, California. Witnesses gave conflicting accounts of what caused Kessler to fall and hit his head, and authorities continue to search for video footage of the event. Alnaji’s bail has been set at $1 million and he will appear in court Monday. 
  • Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels two-way baseball superstar, won the American League Most Valuable Player award Thursday, becoming the first player to win the award twice by unanimous vote. Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. won the National League MVP award.

Legally Biden

Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, departs the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building and United States Courthouse on July 26, 2023 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, departs the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building and United States Courthouse on July 26, 2023 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Over the summer, things were looking up for Hunter Biden. The president’s son seemed set to finally iron out a federal investigation that had dogged him for years—reaching a plea deal with prosecutors that included no jail time and appeared to preclude any future federal charges related to the Justice Department probe. The younger Biden had even begun to take on a more public role alongside his father in the months leading up to the deal. For the White House, this represented a tidy resolution to a saga that Republicans had continually used to criticize the president. Then it all fell apart.

The plea deal exploded in dramatic fashion, and prosecutors have since indicted Biden again on federal gun charges while the Justice Department probe into his conduct remains ongoing. Hunter’s case is heating up again as his legal team goes on the offensive, setting the stage for a high-profile court battle in the middle of his father’s 2024 reelection campaign. 

How did things go south so quickly? As we wrote this summer, Biden’s plea deal collapsed in Delaware federal court under questions from the judge:

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