The Hunter Biden Investigation
Happy Wednesday! Starting next year, Netflix plans to crack down on password sharing between viewers who live in different households—so consider this your three-month window to start figuring out workarounds.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Iran will reportedly provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles and more “kamikaze” drones of the type Russia has used to attack civilian and infrastructure targets in Kyiv—on Monday killing four civilians in an apartment building. Iran has also reportedly sent trainers to Ukraine’s occupied Crimean peninsula to help Russia run the drones. A U.S. official said Monday the U.S. will sanction Iran and third parties selling Tehran weapons materials or running flights between Iran and Russia.
- The European Commission on Tuesday proposed granting the executive body power to set an emergency price cap on natural gas at the Dutch Title Transfer Facility, a major benchmark for gas. If the proposal gets approval, the bloc would still need to agree on technical details—commission officials didn’t specify where they’d set the price cap or how they would guarantee that consumption doesn’t tick up in response to one.
- Offering salaries of about $275,000, China has reportedly recruited about 30 former British military pilots to train Chinese armed forces to counter Western tactics and equipment. The British Ministry of Defense said there’s no evidence the pilots have shared information that violates the Official Secrets Act, but James Heappey, the U.K.’s armed forces minister, said officials will change the law to allow prosecution of pilots training Chinese forces—after a warning to stop.
- Saudi Arabia has sentenced American citizen Saad Ibrahim Almadi, 72, to 16 years in prison for tweets he posted while living in the United States that criticized Saudi policies and one which supported naming a street after journalist Jamal Khashoggi, murdered in a Saudi consulate in 2018. State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said Tuesday that the State Department is still deciding whether to designate Almadi as “wrongfully detained.”
- Igor Danchenko—a Russian-born analyst who provided research for the discredited Steele dossier, which alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia—was acquitted Tuesday on multiple counts of lying to the FBI. In one, the prosecution alleged Danchenko was untruthful when he told the FBI he hadn’t talked about his research with Democratic political operative Charles Dolan, but, because his correspondence with Dolan was over email, U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga ruled the charge had to be thrown out. Special counsel John Durham—appointed three years ago to examine the origins of the FBI’s investigation of Trump campaign ties to Russia—has had minimal courtroom success, but he and his team unearthed a number of mistakes or errors in judgment made by federal investigators in the run-up to the 2016 election. Durham is expected to submit his final report to the Justice Department before next year.
- Leaders on both sides of the aisle have this week outlined their priorities if their parties emerge from the midterms with congressional control: President Joe Biden said in a speech Tuesday that he would push a law codifying the legal protections outlined in Roe v. Wade and creating a national right to abortion, while House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said Republicans would likely not “write a blank check to Ukraine” with respect to military and humanitarian aid. Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said yesterday he believes the aid will continue in a GOP-led Congress, but that there would be more “oversight and accountability in terms of the funding and where the money is going.”
- The Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday the standard deduction and income tax rate thresholds will rise next year by the largest amount since the inflation-based adjustment system was introduced in 1985, a reflection of this year’s rapid price increases. The standard deduction for married couples and individual taxpayers will climb about 7 percent from 2022’s level, and marginal tax rates will begin kicking in at higher income thresholds.
Hunter in the Hot Seat
Asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos back in April about Hunter Biden’s legal woes, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain was adamant that everything was fine: “Of course the president is confident that his son didn’t break the law.”
The elder Biden himself was asked a similar question by CNN’s Jake Tapper last week, and, although he echoed Klain by expressing confidence in Hunter, he was decidedly less categorical when it came to his son’s legal exposure. “I’m confident that he is—what he says, and does, are consistent with what happens,” the president said. “I have great confidence in my son. I love him. And he’s on the straight and narrow, and he has been, for a couple years now. And I’m just so proud of him.”
A few days earlier, the Washington Post had reported that, according to “people familiar” with the probe, federal agents investigating Hunter believe they’ve collected enough evidence to charge him with tax crimes and with lying on a government form related to a gun purchase. All that’s left, per both the Post and the Wall Street Journal, is for the U.S. Attorney in Delaware—David Weiss, whom former President Donald Trump nominated in November 2017—to decide whether to pursue the case. Weiss was one of only two remaining Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys President Biden didn’t ask to resign upon taking office in early 2021.