Happy Monday! As of Friday, Sen. Chuck Schumer has reportedly ditched the Senate’s unofficial dress code—though he’s said he’ll continue to wear a suit.
The rule change may appeal most to Sen. John Fetterman—who is often seen around the Capitol in his signature gym shorts and a hoodie—but we hope it means Sen. Joe Manchin finally breaks out the Mothman costume we’re pretty sure he has.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- The White House announced Sunday National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met in Malta over the weekend, where Sullivan reportedly urged Yi against providing weapons to Russia in support of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The two also reportedly discussed “peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait” and agreed to high-level “consultations in key areas.” The meeting comes as China’s defense minister—who has not been seen in several weeks—is reportedly under investigation for corrupt procurement practices.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will attend the United Nations General Assembly’s annual meeting in New York City this week before arriving in Washington, D.C., where he’ll meet with President Joe Biden and senators on Capitol Hill. Zelensky is expected to appeal to U.S. and international leaders for continued aid as officials leading his country’s armed forces said over the weekend they have retaken three villages around Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
- Iran expelled roughly one-third of the inspectors representing the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog over the weekend after more than 60 countries, including the U.S., expressed concern over Iran’s lack of compliance with the Nonproliferation Treaty’s “Safeguards Agreement.” Specifically, the countries had called on Iran to explain the presence of traces of uranium at undeclared nuclear sites. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, panned the move on Saturday. “I strongly condemn this disproportionate and unprecedented unilateral measure,” he said. The expulsions come one week after the Biden administration issued a waiver allowing banks to release $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds as part of an exchange to free Americans held by Iran.
- Mexico extradited Ovidio Guzmán—the son of Sinaloa cartel drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán—to the U.S. last week to face drug charges. Mexican officials captured the younger Guzmán in January, and he and his brothers—who are responsible for much of the fentanyl produced and smuggled into the U.S.—were indicted by the Justice Department in April.
- Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted by the Texas state Senate on Saturday on all 16 articles of impeachment stemming from accusations of corruption and abuses of power. Only two Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with the 12 Democrats in the chamber to convict on several articles, leaving the senate well short of the 21 votes necessary to convict Paxton on any of the 16 individual charges. Axios reported yesterday some Texas state senators came under pressure from national Republican-aligned organizations threatening to fund primary challengers if they voted to convict. Paxton was immediately reinstated after his acquittal, ending a suspension that began in May.
- Authorities in Hawaii announced Friday that 97 people died in last month’s devastating Maui wildfires, slightly below the original death toll estimate of 115. The revision comes after weeks of extensive DNA analysis that revealed some remains in the possession of the Maui county medical examiner belonged to the same person. It’s possible, however, that the death toll may rise again as more remains are discovered.
- Politico reported last week that perhaps only a dozen women have taken advantage of a new Defense Department program allowing female service members to take paid leave and receive travel reimbursement for trips to seek reproductive treatment, including abortions. Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has blocked the promotion of some 300 senior military officials in protest of the policy, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has given no indication he will reverse course.
- In an interview yesterday with Kristen Welker on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” former President Donald Trump denied he had ordered a Mar-a-Lago employee to delete security footage—one of the assertions in special counsel Jack Smith’s superseding indictment related to Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents and attempts to mislead the federal government about the documents whereabouts. Trump added he’d take the stand to give testimony to that effect: “Sure, I’m going to—I’ll testify,” he told Welker. But he added: “They were my tapes.”
- In a Friday court filing, federal prosecutors sought restrictions on what Trump could say about his prosecution by Smith regarding Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Prosecutors claimed that Trump’s statements on social media, in particular, “undermine confidence in the criminal justice system and prejudice the jury pool through disparaging and inflammatory attacks on the citizens of this District, the Court, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses.” Smith’s team asked Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing the trial, to issue a narrow gag order on any Trump “statements about any party, witness, attorney, court personnel, or potential jurors that are disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating.” Even if such an order is issued, it’s unclear what penalties might be levied against the former president should he violate it.
Slumping Toward a Shutdown
We got our first whiff of autumn here in D.C. over the weekend, with temperatures dipping into the 50s, a handful of leaves starting to fall, and House Republicans putting on a live-action performance of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Speaker Kevin McCarthy was in the titular role, with a handful of GOP hardliners teaming up to play Lucy. Instead of a football being pulled away at the last minute, however, it’s a deal to stave off a government shutdown that remains ever-elusive, just beyond McCarthy’s grasp.
After a lengthy summer recess, the House has now been back in session for about a week—but lawmakers don’t appear to have made much headway on funding the government for the coming fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Two intra-GOP factions appeared to reach an agreement last night that would push that deadline back a month, just as Lucy appeared to be holding the football steady for Charlie to give it the boot. Within minutes, more Republicans than McCarthy can afford to lose were out with statements panning the proposal, which wouldn’t pass the Democratic-led Senate even if House Republicans are able to coalesce.