Happy Monday! The Defense Department recently updated an internal rule clarifying that it will no longer work with directors who plan to let the Chinese Communist Party censor their movies. 🇺🇸 🦅
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- The State Department released an after-action report on Friday assessing its own handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan during both the Biden and Trump administrations. The document points to a failure to consider and plan for worst-case scenarios, as well as poor organization within the department, making it unclear who at the State Department was in charge of the resulting evacuation.
- Protests and riots continued in France over the weekend, nearly a week after a French police officer—who’s since been charged with murder—shot and killed a teenager of North African descent in a suburb of Paris during an encounter captured on video. Rioters looted shopping malls, grocery stores, and banks across the country over the weekend, and more than 1,300 people were arrested Saturday night alone. The wife of the mayor of a Paris suburb was injured as she and her children fled rioters attacking their home Saturday night.
- A top Brazilian electoral court voted Friday to bar former President Jair Bolsanaro from running for political office until 2030. The seven-judge panel convicted Bolsanaro of abuse of political power and of misusing the media ahead of the October 2022 election against Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva by sowing doubts about the reliability and authenticity of the country’s voting machines. Bolsonaro said he was simply exposing “possible flaws” in the voting system, and made clear he would appeal the ruling to Brazil’s supreme court.
- The Washington Post reported Friday then-President Donald Trump called then-Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in late 2020 to pressure him to overturn that state’s election results. Trump also reportedly asked former Vice President Mike Pence repeatedly to call Ducey, but Pence said Sunday “there was no pressure involved” in his post-election conversations with Ducey and other governors.
- Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell sent a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith, a Republican, on Friday accusing him of fabricating WhatsApp messages between the president’s son and a Chinese businessman and relying on testimony from IRS whistleblowers whom he said were unreliable. The federal prosecutor who oversaw the investigation into Hunter Biden’s tax crimes, David Weiss, also defended his independence on Friday, saying he had “ultimate authority” over the probe and offering to answer questions from GOP lawmakers about allegations the Department of Justice interfered in his investigation.
- The Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, rose 0.1 percent month-over-month in May and 3.8 percent annually in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, its lowest annual change in two years and down from a 4.3 percent annual increase in April. Core PCE—which strips out volatile food and energy prices—ticked down by less than 0.1 percentage point from April. The Fed is still expected to raise interest rates later this month after a pause in June.
- After releasing several consequential rulings last week before its summer recess, the Supreme Court also announced Friday it will hear a case on Second Amendment rights next term. At issue in United States v. Rahimi is whether the government can constitutionally prohibit people under domestic violence restraining orders from possessing guns.
- Actor and comedian Alan Arkin—known for his roles in Little Miss Sunshine, Argo, and Glengarry Glen Ross—died last week at the age of 89.
Student Debt Cancellation Goes Down
Three years and $4.3 billion a month in canceled interest payments later, the student loan repayment freeze is headed for the bin. On Friday, the Supreme Court sent President Joe Biden’s $430 billion debt forgiveness plan to join it.
While much of the debate around the forgiveness plan has concerned its value as a policy choice, SCOTUS ruled 6-3 along ideological lines in Biden v. Nebraska that, regardless of its merits, the Department of Education doesn’t have the legal authority to pull it off. Biden has pledged to try again under a different law.
About 43 million people in the U.S. hold a combined $1.6 trillion in federal student loans, and Biden’s plan would have canceled up to $10,000 for borrowers earning less than $125,000 a year and up to $20,000 for borrowers who received need-based Pell Grants intended to help low-income students.