Happy Monday! An enormous animatronic dragon caught fire during the “Fantasmic!” show at Disneyland in California over the weekend. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the inferno, but Ron DeSantis was out West on Saturday.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Saturday night the U.S. military had evacuated American embassy personnel from Sudan earlier in the day. Three Chinook helicopters operated by U.S. special forces airlifted fewer than 100 people—embassy staff and their families—from Khartoum and out of Sudanese airspace, temporarily closing the U.S. embassy in the African nation amid increasingly violent tensions. Several other nations—including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Canada—also evacuated their diplomats and other government personnel over the weekend.
- The Washington Post—citing Pentagon documents included in the recent Discord leaks—reported Saturday that Afghanistan has become a staging ground for terrorist activity in the two years since the United States’ withdrawal. The documents purportedly indicate U.S. officials were aware of 15 ISIS-planned attacks on churches, embassies, the World Cup, and other targets as of February, but that U.S. intelligence agencies have frequently been able to intercept ISIS communications and disrupt the plots.
- The U.S. military will begin training Ukrainian troops on Abrams M1 tanks in the next several weeks, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Friday. The training is expected to take ten weeks and would reportedly put battle-ready tanks on the ground in Ukraine by the fall. The Pentagon reiterated, however, the U.S. would not supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets.
- The Supreme Court on Friday granted the Justice Department’s request for a stay in the recent mifepristone litigation, putting on hold a ruling from a federal judge in Texas that suspended the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill. As a result, the drug will remain available while the case returns to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal and litigation plays out. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would not have granted the stay, with Alito penning a three-page dissent.
- House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told Fox News on Sunday he plans to bring his debt limit bill—which would raise the ceiling by $1.5 trillion in exchange for spending cuts—to the floor for a vote this week, vowing that it will pass despite reports suggesting he does not yet have the 218 votes necessary to advance it.
- Former Manhattan prosecutor Mark Pomerantz will testify before the GOP-led House Judiciary Committee in May with the general counsel from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office present to observe the deposition, both parties confirmed Friday. The agreement ends a standoff between Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg and Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, after Bragg—who indicted former President Trump earlier this month—unsuccessfully sued to block a subpoena that compelled Pomerantz to testify before the committee. The motion was denied earlier this week on the grounds the D.A.’s office did not challenge the publication of Pomerantz’s book about his time working under Bragg.
- The House voted 219-203 on Thursday, entirely along party lines, to pass a bill that would amend Title IX—which bars sex-based discrimination in education—to define sex as based exclusively on reproductive biology and genetics at birth. The legislation—which will not pass the Democratic-controlled Senate—would bar biological male students from competing on female sports teams at federally funded schools and colleges, but permit them to train and practice with those teams.
- Florida GOP Rep. Michael Waltz—who holds Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ former House seat—endorsed former President Donald Trump in the 2024 Republican primary last week, the ninth of now eleven members of Florida’s 20-seat congressional delegation to endorse the former president over the state’s current governor. “We need experienced and proven leadership back in the White House,” Waltz said in a statement to Breitbart. DeSantis’ campaign did get a boost on Saturday, with former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt—a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump—being named chairman of the Never Back Down PAC supporting DeSantis’ impending presidential bid. Laxalt, who was DeSantis’ roommate during their naval officer training, chaired Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign in Nevada and had Trump’s endorsement in his failed 2022 Senate run.
- Talk radio host Larry Elder announced last week he is launching a longshot presidential bid, joining a growing Republican primary field two years after he lost a recall election in California against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
- North Carolina’s Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson launched his gubernatorial bid on Saturday, joining a race that is expected to include Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein, Republican Treasurer Dale Folwell, and GOP former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker. Robinson would be North Carolina’s first black governor if he were elected to replace Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.
A week after the fighting between forces loyal to two rival generals began in Sudan, United States officials quit waiting for the black smoke to stop rising from the Khartoum airport and sent in special forces—including the elite SEAL Team Six—to evacuate U.S. embassy personnel and their families. “I’m proud of our extraordinary service members who executed and supported this operation with outstanding precision and professionalism,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Saturday night.
The U.S. has now suspended embassy operations in Sudan, but hasn’t stopped calling for ceasefires. “This tragic violence in Sudan has already cost the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians,” President Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday announcing the evacuation. “It’s unconscionable and it must stop.”
As we reported last week, Sudan’s military—led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan—is fighting for control of the country with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo. The two helped oust dictator Omar al-Bashir four years ago after a popular uprising, but executed a coup in 2021, disrupting efforts to adopt a democratic civilian government. United Nations and U.S.-backed talks resumed to turn over power to a civilian government, but tensions rose between Burhan and Hemedti. Fighting broke out April 15, and more than 400 people have been killed, per the World Health Organization, and thousands injured—though the actual casualty numbers are almost assuredly far higher. On Thursday, the State Department said at least one American citizen was among the dead.