Happy Wednesday! For the first time in history, according to Nielsen data, linear television accounted for less than 50 percent of Americans’ total viewing time in July—with cable TV accounting for 29.6 percent and broadcast TV 20 percent.
The other 50.4 percent? This YouTube video of a pug eating watermelon.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Federal prosecutors in a court filing yesterday denied recent allegations made by Hunter Biden’s legal team that prosecutors had “reneged” on a plea deal with their client, arguing that “the two proposed agreements were drafts that either party could propose changes to.” The lawyer who represented Hunter Biden in negotiating his plea deal with the Justice Department over alleged tax and gun offenses also stepped down Tuesday and vowed to testify as a witness on behalf of the president’s son in an attempt to save the plea deal which fell apart in court last month.
- Charles McGonigal, a former high-ranking FBI agent, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to helping a sanctioned Russian oligarch in exchange for secret payments. Formerly the top agent at the FBI’s New York counterintelligence office, McGonigal now faces a maximum of five years in prison—rather than the 20 years he could have faced had he not admitted to accepting $17,500 from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
- President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he and Jill Biden will travel to Hawaii “as soon as we can” to survey damage in the aftermath of wildfires which have killed at least 99 people on Maui. Biden declared a federal emergency and issued a statement expressing his condolences for the lives lost last week, but has faced criticism from Republicans who argue he has not adequately addressed the tragedy.
- A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit brought by the libertarian Cato Institute and other free market groups that had aimed to block the Biden administration’s latest student loan forgiveness push. The decision is a win for Biden, who announced changes to income-driven repayment plans last month in an effort to cancel debt for more than 800,000 borrowers after the Supreme Court struck down a more ambitious loan forgiveness program.
- Chinese officials will no longer share data on the country’s youth unemployment rate, which has spiked in recent months, Beijing announced yesterday. China has recently attempted to restrict economic data as its economy spirals; the country’s central bank also unexpectedly cut key interest rates in an attempt to spur growth.
- Retail spending in the U.S. grew at the fastest pace since the start of 2023 last month, according to new data released by the Commerce Department yesterday. Sales in the retail sector rose a seasonally-adjusted 0.7 percent from June, picking up from a 0.3 percent gain the prior month and outpacing July’s 0.2 percent increase in consumer prices. The data signal that consumer spending remains strong even as the Federal Reserve attempts to cool the economy with higher interest rates.
- The Nevada Republican party announced Monday that it will hold a presidential caucus on February 8, 2024, jumping ahead of South Carolina’s February 24 primary. The party’s decision defies Nevada’s state legislature, which in 2021 passed a law requiring a state-run primary, currently scheduled for February 6; the state GOP has maintained that it will allot delegates through its caucus, rather than the preceding primary.
Trump and 18 Co-Defendants Indicted in Georgia
What do former President Donald Trump, Young Thug, and Kanye West’s onetime publicist have in common? They’re all facing racketeering charges from Fani Willis, the Democratic district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia.
Trump was hit with his fourth and most expansive indictment Monday, this time for his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia and promulgate his voter fraud falsehoods. But, unlike special counsel Jack Smith, Willis did not stop at Trump—she also indicted 18 co-conspirators in the effort under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a legal tool she’s previously wielded in unconventional ways against other high-profile defendants. The charges are serious—with mandatory sentencing minimums if convicted and beyond the reach of a presidential pardon—but Republicans by and large weren’t fazed. With four indictments in as many months, Trump, his allies, and his GOP primary opponents have fallen into patterns of denial and deflection that are proving just as useful this time around.