Meet the New Boss

Happy Thursday! Patrons at a Noodles & Company in Beloit, Wisconsin, were minding their own business this week when a six-point buck charged into the restaurant and made a beeline for the kitchen, sending customers fleeing. Health inspectors are getting craftier and craftier these days.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Iranian Quds Force—the foreign operations arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—trained hundreds of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists prior to the October 7 attack on Israel, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Israel has reportedly delayed its ground invasion of Gaza—at the request of the U.S.—to buy more time to negotiate the release of Hamas-held hostages and to deploy additional American air-defense systems to the region. 
  • The upper house of Russia’s parliament voted on Wednesday to rescind the country’s ratification of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty—which the U.S. signed but did not ratify, but by which the U.S. has nonetheless abided. Hours later, Putin oversaw regularly scheduled missile tests simulating nuclear strikes which Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said were aimed at “dealing a massive nuclear strike with strategic offensive forces in response to a nuclear strike by the enemy.” 
  • Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana was elected the 56th speaker of the House of Representatives on Wednesday after House Republicans unanimously voted in favor of his candidacy. The House had been without a speaker for 22 days after several candidates tried and failed to rally the necessary 217 votes. Johnson, who was the vice chairman of the House GOP conference, voted against certifying the results of the 2020 election and filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit before the Supreme Court alleging widespread voter fraud during that election. 
  • Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York, fined the former president $10,000 for violating a gag order that forbade Trump from speaking about court staff. Trump was ordered to the witness stand on Wednesday to explain comments made to the press earlier that day, in which Trump had said Engoron was biased “with a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside him. Perhaps even much more partisan than he is.” Trump claimed the statement was about his former attorney Michael Cohen, and not the judge’s clerk, Allison Greenfield, who sat near the judge and whom Trump has previously posted about online. On the stand, Trump testified that Greenfield was “maybe unfair,” and that he thinks “she’s very biased” against him.
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Tuesday, alleging Customs and Border Protection officers intentionally “seized and damaged” concertina wire placed on the Texas-Mexico border at least 20 times since September 20 to help migrants illegally cross into the United States. A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson wouldn’t comment directly on ongoing litigation, but said that Border Patrol agents “have a responsibility under federal law to take those who have crossed onto U.S. soil without authorization into custody for processing, as well as to act when there are conditions that put our workforce or migrants at risk.”
  • Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York was charged with a misdemeanor on Wednesday for pulling the fire alarm in a House office building on September 30. He will be arraigned on the charge—for which the maximum sentence is six months in prison—today in a D.C. court, where he is expected to plead guilty and issue a formal apology to Capitol police.
  • The United Auto Workers union (UAW) has reportedly reached a provisional deal with Ford, one of the “Big Three” U.S. automakers against whom the UAW has been striking in recent weeks. The agreement—which would need to be ratified by UAW members—includes a 25 percent pay increase over the course of a four-year contract, and could increase pressure on the other two automakers, Stellantis and General Motors, to make further concessions to end ongoing strikes. 
  • At least 16 people were killed Wednesday night—and dozens more injured—after a shooter opened fire with an assault-style rifle at several locations, including a bowling alley, in Lewiston, Maine. Authorities are still searching for the gunman, a white male, and have ordered residents of Lewiston and nearby Auburn and Lisbon to shelter in place and lock down buildings and businesses. Lewiston public schools will be closed today, and Maine State Police officials are expected to brief the media this morning.
  • Hurricane Otis made landfall in Acapulco, Mexico, on Wednesday as a Category 5 hurricane, the strongest such storm to ever hit Mexico’s Pacific Coast—though it had weakened over land during the day Wednesday. The storm, which rapidly intensified in the 24 hours before making landfall, knocked out power and internet in the region and triggered landslides along a major highway. Authorities are not yet sure what the death toll of the storm may be. 

House GOP: We Like (M)Ike!

U.S. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries hands the gavel to newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson after the House of Representatives held an election in the U.S. Capitol on October 25, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries hands the gavel to newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson after the House of Representatives held an election in the U.S. Capitol on October 25, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

If you’ve never heard of the 56th Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Republican Sen. Susan Collins revealed yesterday that she needed to Google the Louisiana representative to figure out who he was. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s yet to meet the man now second in line to the presidency, and neither has Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. 

Johnson’s election marked the end of three speakerless weeks, and House Republicans were eager to move beyond the shadow of dysfunction put on full display by repeated failures to replace defenestrated former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. But while the House GOP may have given themselves a reprieve from the late-night candidate forums and vote whipping for now, Speaker Johnson faces challenging weeks ahead as he tries to both fund the government and hold together a slim majority that remains divided and at the mercy of its hardline members. 

After winning the party’s nomination late Tuesday night, Johnson and his supporters tried to project a message of unity and competence. “This conference that you see—this House Republican majority—is united,” Johnson said during a press conference on Tuesday. “This group here is ready to govern, and we’re going to govern well.” The following day, the House voted 220-209 to elect Johnson speaker, with every Republican present voting for the Louisianian and every Democrat voting against him. GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik delivered the nominating speech for Johnson, describing him as “a friend to all and an enemy to none.”

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