Happy Thursday! If anyone reading this has a spare ulnar collateral ligament, please ship it to the Los Angeles Angels ASAP. Shohei Ohtani—and those of us who enjoy watching Shohei Ohtani play baseball—could really use it.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- India became the first country to land a spacecraft on the south pole of the moon on Wednesday, beating several other countries in a race to accomplish the tricky feat. Japan failed to land its rover in the dangerous area in April and, over the weekend, Russia crashed its rocket—launched earlier this month—into the moon. India is only the fourth country to successfully reach the moon, joining the U.S., Russia, and China. The lunar probe will now conduct experiments and search for water, which scientists believe exists on the moon’s surface on the crater-filled south pole.
- Russian mercenary Yevgeny Prigozhin is presumed dead after a business jet crashed halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg yesterday. Russian aviation authorities claimed he was aboard, and Prigozhin was listed on the plane’s manifest. Russian state media reported all 10 passengers aboard died in the crash, which does not yet have a confirmed cause. Two months ago, Prigozhin and his Wagner group forces launched a mutiny aimed at ousting high-level Russian defense officials. Meanwhile, a Prigozhin-linked general, Sergei Surovikin, was replaced as head of the air force Wednesday, after allegedly being held under arrest following the mutiny.
- Russia claims to have shot down three Ukrainian drones on the sixth day of attacks on Moscow and the capital region. Meanwhile, three people were reportedly killed after a Ukrainian drone attack in the Belgorod region of Russia, just across the border from Ukraine. A U.S. State Department spokesperson said it does not encourage attacks on Russian territory, but Kyiv may decide how to defend itself against Russia’s invasion.
- The Department of Justice announced the results of a nationwide crackdown on fraud in pandemic aid programs, detailing 718 law enforcement actions that have been brought against 371 defendants over the alleged theft of $836 million. The Justice Department also announced the creation of two additional COVID-19 fraud “strike forces” to combat fraud in pandemic aid programs. Attorney General Merrick Garland created a pandemic fraud task force in May 2021, and federal prosecutors have filed charges or launched investigations into approximately $8.6 billion in alleged fraud since the beginning of the pandemic.
- House Speaker Kevin McCarthy signaled Tuesday that the House could pursue an impeachment inquiry into President Biden as early as next month if the administration doesn’t provide access to records GOP lawmakers are seeking concerning potential ties between the president and Hunter Biden’s business dealings. “If they provide us the documents, there wouldn’t be a need for an impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy told Fox Business yesterday. “But if they withhold the documents and fight like they have now to not provide to the American public what they deserve to know, we will move forward with impeachment inquiry when we come back into session.”
- Several more defendants in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ case prosecuting alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election surrendered to authorities on Wednesday, including Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and Sidney Powell. Giuliani’s bond was set at $150,000, while both Ellis and Powell agreed to bonds of $100,000 apiece. Former President Donald Trump is set to surrender today.
- James Jones—a former EPA administrator—will serve as the Food and Drug Administration’s first Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods. The new position will oversee all the agency’s food programs and policies including those regarding safety and nutrition. Jones’ hiring comes after the FDA faced scrutiny over its handling of the baby formula shortage in early 2022.
- In a 4-1 decision on Wednesday, South Carolina’s Supreme Court upheld a ban on abortion after a heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks of gestation. The ruling reversed a previous decision in January on a similar bill limiting abortion access. Writing for the majority, Justice John Kittredge said the law does infringe on “a woman’s right of privacy and bodily autonomy,” but that the legislature balanced that with “the interest of the unborn child to live.” The new law—replacing a law that previously allowed abortion before 22 weeks of gestation—goes into effect immediately.
The Race for Second Place is On
The most important—and revealing—moment of last night’s GOP primary debate in Milwaukee came one hour in, just before 10 p.m. ET, when co-host Bret Baier finally got around to asking the eight candidates on the stage about the “elephant not in the room.”
“If former President Trump is convicted in a court of law, would you still support him as your party’s choice?” he said. “Raise your hand if you would.”
Vivek Ramaswamy’s arm immediately shot in the air, followed by former Gov. Nikki Haley’s and Sen. Tim Scott’s. Doug Burgum—the governor of North Dakota whose attendance was in jeopardy after he ruptured his Achilles tendon playing basketball a day earlier—took a deep breath and half-heartedly brought his hand up to his shoulder. Only once the audience erupted in cheers for their competitors did Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence—Trump’s onetime running mate—glance to their left and sheepishly do the same.