So Long, Ron Klain

Happy Tuesday! No spoilers in the comments about who received the first impression rose, please—Declan didn’t have time last night to catch the Season 27 premiere of The Bachelor.

(Editor: I probably should cut this just to save Declan the embarrassment his lack of self-awareness is causing him here…Nah.)

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Department of Justice on Monday announced it was charging Charles McGonigal—a former high-ranking FBI counterintelligence agent who retired in 2018–with money laundering and sanctions violations. In the nine-count indictment, prosecutors allege McGonigal took money from sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in 2021 in exchange for investigating a rival oligarch, as well as attempting to get U.S. sanctions on Deripaska lifted. McGonigal is also facing charges for allegedly accepting $225,000 from a former Albanian intelligence official while still employed by the FBI. McGonigal was arrested Saturday evening, and faces a maximum of 80 years in prison. 
  • Seven people were shot and killed Monday afternoon in San Mateo County, California, just two days after a mass shooting left 11 dead in Monterey Park, California, on Saturday. Yesterday’s shooting occurred in two locations a mile apart in Half Moon Bay, 30 miles south of San Francisco. The suspect, a 67-year-old man, was apprehended in his car in the parking lot of a sheriff’s office substation.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron announced Friday that, in response to the ongoing war in Ukraine, his government aims to increase defense spending 40 percent by 2030. Pending approval by the French parliament, the defense ministry hopes to bring defense spending in line with its NATO commitment of 2 percent of France’s GDP, a benchmark it routinely misses. 
  • As first reported in The New York Times, U.S. troops deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base will remain in Romania—just across the Black Sea from Russian-occupied Crimea—for another nine months. Some 4,000 members of the 101st Airborne Division have been stationed at the Romanian base since the summer, training soldiers from other NATO countries and acting as the first line of defense should Russia’s invasion touch NATO territory. The troops from the 101st will be replaced by members of the same division in the next two months, accompanied by a two-star general and top military planners. 
  • Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona announced Monday he will challenge Sen. Kyrsten Sinema—who recently switched her party affiliation from “Democrat” to “Independent”—for her seat in 2024.  Sinema has not yet detailed her plans for the race, but a three-way contest could split Democratic support and aid the Republican nominee.
  • The U.S. and Israel launched their largest joint military exercise to date on Monday. Covering all aspects of warfare from cyber to space, the live-fire exercises are the first since the new Israeli government took power.
  • The Treasury Department announced another tranche of sanctions against Iran on Monday, this time targeting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Cooperative Foundation for its funding of the IRGC’s repressive practices. The sanctions—which come in response to crackdowns on protests over the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini—also target five members of the foundation’s board, four IRGC officers, and an Iranian intelligence minister.   
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday Turkey will not support Sweden’s accession to NATO after protests against Turkey and in support of the Kurds broke out in Stockholm over the weekend, including a far-right politician burning a Qu’ran. Turkey has already held up NATO membership for both Sweden and Finland for months, demanding those governments agree to extradite Turkish political dissidents. 
  • In his first public remarks since FBI agents conducted a search of President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, over the weekend, Attorney General Merrick Garland pushed back on criticisms the Justice Department was treating the Biden case differently than the investigation into former President Donald Trump. “We do not have different rules for Democrats or Republicans, different rules for the powerful or the powerless, different rules for the rich and for the poor,” he told reporters. “We apply the facts and the law in each case in a neutral, non-partisan manner.”

An Inflection Point in the Biden Presidency

Biden and his longtime adviser, Ron Klain. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Writing a State of the Union speech is our idea of a nightmare group project: Cobbled together with talking points from seemingly every corner of the executive branch, it’s delivered after months of preparation to a nation that’ll only remember it if something goes wrong. 

“I would so much rather write the pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey speech than the State of the Union,” said Mary Kate Cary, a former George H.W. Bush speechwriter and a professor in the University of Virginia’s politics department. “Nobody listens to the pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey and says, ‘That is the worst turkey pardoning speech I’ve ever heard.’” 

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