Happy Tuesday! If you changed the channel during last night’s Iowa caucuses in the hopes of catching something a little less stressful, you may have instead been alarmed to see a large goblin creeping down the red carpet at the Emmys. And no, we’re not talking about the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- U.S. Central Command reported Monday that the Gibraltar Eagle, a shipping vessel flagged by the Marshall Islands and owned and operated by the U.S.-based Eagle Bulk Shipping, had been struck by a Houthi-launched ballistic missile in the Gulf of Aden. The attack marked the first time an American ship has been targeted since last week’s U.S.-led strikes against Houthi infrastructure in Yemen. The ship reported no injuries, avoided serious damage, and continued on its journey, but the U.S. Maritime Administration issued a warning on Monday to ships traversing through the Red Sea due to the “high degree of risk to commercial vessels.” QatarEnergy, one of the world’s largest shippers of natural gas, directed its ships on Monday to avoid the busy commercial waterway.
- Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Monday evening fired a barrage of missiles at northern Iraq, including near the U.S. consulate in Erbil, targeting what Iranian officials described as an Israeli-run “espionage center,” ostensibly in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike that killed a senior IRGC official last month. While U.S. officials stated that no American facilities were impacted by the strikes, Kurdish authorities reported that at least four civilians were killed and six were injured. Also on Monday night, the IRGC said it launched missile strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria in response to the terrorist group’s suicide bombing in Kerman, Iran, earlier this month, which killed nearly 100 people at a ceremony commemorating the fourth anniversary of the death of Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani.
- The government of Nauru, a small island nation in the Pacific, announced on Monday that it would sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan and instead foster relations with China. The move comes just days after Taiwan’s presidential election elevated ruling party candidate Lai Ching-te, whom Beijing views as a separatist. Taiwanense officials blasted the sudden decision as “retaliation for democratic values and a blatant challenge to the international order.”
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday, the Pentagon announced, and will perform his duties remotely as he continues to recover. Austin was hospitalized on January 1 due to complications resulting from prostate cancer treatment, and came under fire after not disclosing his hospitalization to senior security officials or President Joe Biden. Austin is not scheduled to receive any additional treatments, and Biden has said he does not plan to remove Austin for his failure to communicate.
- Former President Donald Trump won the Iowa caucuses last night, beating his opponents by a record-setting 30-point margin as he captured 51 percent of the vote and 98 out of 99 counties in the state. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis placed second, with 21 percent of the vote, and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley placed third, with 19 percent. Vivek Ramaswamy, garnering around 8 percent, suspended his campaign after coming in fourth place and formally endorsed Trump.
- The Bear and Succession won six Emmys each at last night’s 75th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, including the awards for best comedy and best drama, respectively. Sir Elton John won an award for his concert film, Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium, completing his EGOT quadfecta.
And Then There Were Three?
On a typical election night, the press calling a race for a candidate is usually accompanied by live footage of said person’s headquarters, where cheering supporters laud the news in real time. Last night, however, when major networks called the Iowa caucuses for former President Donald Trump, the news echoed around an empty event space. It was so early in the evening that Trump’s supporters hadn’t even arrived at the victory party.
Sidestepping snowdrifts and icicles during the coldest caucuses ever, Iowa Republicans did what public polling suggested they would, delivering Trump a resounding victory that was called by several networks’ decision desks fewer than 40 minutes after the caucuses began—and before many caucus-goers had cast their votes. The former president won 98 out of 99 counties in the state. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis eked out a second-place finish with 21 percent of the vote, outperforming late-breaking polls that had him lagging behind former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who came in third, notching around 19 percent of the vote and winning one county by one vote. Trump’s landslide victory wasn’t his only boon for the night, either: Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who pulled around 8 percent of the vote, dropped out and endorsed the former president.
Despite Haley and DeSantis’ claims of a strong showing on Monday night, the results in Iowa were perhaps the best-case scenario for Trump: The GOP nominating contest now moves on to New Hampshire without a consensus alternative to the frontrunner, and a candidate whose voters largely like Trump is now out of the race, freeing his supporters to drift back to the former president.