Happy Friday! Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers lost again last night? For the seventh time this season? That’s a darn shame.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday she will not seek re-election to leadership in the next Congress, ending a 20-year run atop the House Democratic Caucus that featured two separate stints as speaker. “The hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic Caucus that I so deeply respect,” she said, noting she will remain a member of the House representing San Francisco. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also announced he won’t run for party leadership in the next Congress, setting up an expected generational shift in the party ranks. Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Pete Aguilar are the likeliest candidates to ascend.
- One day after insisting—contra the assessment of the U.S. and its NATO allies—that the explosion that killed two people in Poland Tuesday had not been a Ukrainian defense missile gone awry, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday that “I don’t know 100 percent—I think the world also doesn’t know 100 percent what happened.” He added, “We can’t say specifically that this was the air defense of Ukraine.”
- A longtime veteran of Republican campaigns was found guilty of charges related to a scheme to solicit and conceal donations from a Russian national to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Jesse Benton, a former top adviser to Ron Paul and his son Rand, was pardoned in 2020 by Trump for previous convictions on campaign finance crimes involving illegal donations in Iowa.
- WNBA star Brittney Griner—detained near Moscow in February for having cannabis oil in her luggage—began serving her nine-year sentence in the IK-2 female penal colony in Mordovia this week, dampening hopes that negotiations for her release between the White House and Kremlin were making progress.
- North Korea launched yet another missile into the Sea of Japan Thursday in response to massive joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea in the region this week. North Korean officials have denounced the exercises as “rehearsal for invasion” and warned that “The United States will realize that it is taking a gamble it will regret for sure.”
- The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—fell by 4,000 week-over-week to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 last week. The measure is up from earlier this year, but it remains near historic lows, signaling the labor market—though cooling—continues to be tight.
- The average number of weekly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States increased about 2 percent over the past two weeks according to CDC data, while the average number of weekly deaths attributed to the virus—a lagging indicator—fell 10 percent. About 21,300 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, holding steady from the number hospitalized two weeks ago.
The Bomb-Throwing Coalition Lays its Plans
You could see the midterm results—disappointing for Republicans, particularly the more MAGA—as a sign that voters are sick of, as Sen. Mitch McConnell put it this week, “chaos, negativity, [and] excessive attacks.” You could see them as a clear message from independents to ditch the lunacy and prioritize policy debates on immigration and the economy. You could see them as a plea to quit fixating on past grievances and chart a path forward.
You could, but the House GOP conference—which tied itself to the MAGA movement two years ago via Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s post-January 6 pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago—evidently doesn’t.
With a victory in California’s 27th District on Wednesday, Republicans finally clinched what will likely end up being one of the slimmest House majorities in modern political history. But the party’s underperformance didn’t stop McCarthy, now the aspiring House speaker, from spiking the football as if they had ridden the long-promised Red Tsunami into power. “Tonight it is official: One-party Democrat rule in Washington is FINISHED,” he bragged on Fox News. “We have fired Nancy Pelosi.”