Showdown in South Carolina

Happy Wednesday! We begin this morning’s TMD with a PSA: Apparently, we’re not supposed to dry out wet iPhones in rice anymore, since doing so could cause “small particles of rice to damage your iPhone,” according to Apple. Who knew tiny bits of grain were titanium’s kryptonite?

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield voted against an Algerian-proposed Security Council resolution advocating for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the release of all of the hostages, wielding veto power to block the measure. The United Kingdom abstained from the vote, and representatives of the 13 other countries on the council voted in favor of the resolution. “We have made incredibly clear that the resolution before the Council would not achieve the goal of a sustainable peace, and may, in fact, run counter to it,” Thomas-Greenfield said yesterday. “Proceeding with a vote today was wishful and irresponsible.” She had previously said such a resolution would jeopardize ongoing peace talks. Meanwhile, Israel ordered the evacuation of two neighborhoods in Gaza City on Tuesday, signaling additional fighting could be coming to the northern part of the enclave after the IDF’s focus has shifted to the southern part of the Strip in recent weeks.
  • Between 800 and 1,000 Ukrainian troops are reportedly missing and feared to have been captured by Russia following a chaotic withdrawal from the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka over the weekend. The city’s capture by Russian forces is one of the most significant changes to the front lines in Ukraine in months. 
  • Russian authorities on Tuesday announced the arrest of a dual U.S.-Russian citizen in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on suspicion of treason for her alleged efforts to raise funds for Ukraine in its battle against Moscow’s invasion. Also Tuesday, Russian state media reported that unspecified charges had been filed against Alexei Navalny’s younger brother Oleg and that he has been added to the country’s “wanted list”—and a Russian court upheld Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s detention in Moscow, ensuring he will remain in prison past the one-year anniversary of his arrest on March 30. Meanwhile, a Russian defector who turned over a Russian helicopter to Ukraine for cash last summer appears to have been killed in Spain, found shot to death and run over by a car in the coastal town of Villajoyosa.
  • President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the U.S. would unveil new sanctions against Russia on Friday for the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The sanctions will be part of a “substantial package covering a range of different elements of the Russian defense industrial base, and sources of revenue for the Russian economy that power Russia’s war machine, that power Russia’s aggression and that power Russia’s repression,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed Tuesday. Meanwhile, the U.S. has reportedly told allies that Russia could put its nuclear anti-satellite weapon—about which GOP Rep. Mike Turner sounded the alarm earlier this month—into space as early as this year, though Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the allegations.
  • The FBI and law enforcement agencies from more than 10 countries, including the U.K., collaborated to dismantle the Lockbit ransomware gang, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. The agencies seized control of infrastructure used to target more than 2,000 victims and extort more than $120 million from them in exchange for access to their hostage data. The DOJ indicted two Russian nationals related to the operation, and Polish and Ukrainian law enforcement made two arrests in their respective countries. 
  • Hunter Biden’s legal team alleged Tuesday that former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, who was charged last week with making false claims against both President Biden and his son, had been fed information by Russian intelligence officials. According to a court filing, Smirnov “is actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November. In light of that fact there is a serious risk he will flee in order to avoid accountability for his actions.” The younger Biden’s lawyers contend that Smirnov’s actions led to the collapse of last summer’s plea deal
  • Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley vowed in a speech Tuesday that she would not withdraw from the Republican presidential primary race even if she loses Saturday’s primary in her home state of South Carolina, where she’s polling significantly behind former President Donald Trump. “I’m not afraid to say the hard truths out loud,” she said. “I feel no need to kiss the ring. And I have no fear of Trump’s retribution. I’m not looking for anything from him.” She also repeated her argument that Trump and Biden are both too old to be president.
  • Republican businessman Eric Hovde announced on Tuesday that he is running for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin against incumbent Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Hovde, the only Republican challenger for the seat, has the backing of National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Steve Daines. This will be Hovde’s second run for Senate, after losing the Republican primary to former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson in 2012. 

It Won’t Be Like This For Long

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at a campaign event at Clemson University on February 20, 2024, in Greenville, South Carolina, ahead of South Carolina’s Republican primary on February 24. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

It’s been nearly a month since our last check-in on the 2024 GOP primary, and while your Morning Dispatchers have greatly appreciated the respite, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday tried to remind the press—and, she hopes, throngs of South Carolina primary voters—that she is is still very much in the race.

Haley delivered a forceful speech ahead of Saturday’s GOP primary in the Palmetto State, asserting that she is the best candidate—Republican or Democrat—to lead America into the future. She offered some of her strongest rebukes yet of former President Donald Trump, the current Republican frontrunner, promising not only to continue the fight until the last person votes but that she would not “kiss the ring” should she ultimately be defeated. Although Trump has continued to rack up legal fees in recent weeks, he’s also racking up delegates—and a memo released by his campaign yesterday predicts the race could officially be over as soon as mid-March.

Three states and one U.S. territory have so far voted and allocated delegates in the Republican primary: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Despite a closer-than-expected second-place finish in New Hampshire, Haley’s prospects haven’t really improved since it became a one-on-one race. Trump has won all 30 delegates up for grabs so far in February—26 in the Nevada caucuses and four in the Virgin Islands. Trump did run unopposed in the Nevada caucuses, with Haley—citing what she called an unfair process in the caucuses—opting to run in the symbolic Nevada primary instead.

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