Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 16, 2021

The defense rests in Derek Chauvin's murder trial, the Biden administration imposes sanctions on Russia, and more

1

Chauvin declines to testify as defense rests in George Floyd case

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Thursday told the court in his murder trial for the death of George Floyd that he would not testify, saying he was invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Defense attorney Eric Nelson later rested his case. Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell called a rebuttal witness to counter a defense witness' suggestion that tailpipe exhaust might have contributed to Floyd's death. The state's witness said the level of carbon monoxide in Floyd's blood was normal when he died after Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground for nine minutes with his knee on the unarmed Black man's neck. The prosecution then rested its case. The trial will resume for closing arguments on Monday.

2

U.S. sanctions Russia over hacking, election meddling

The Biden administration announced Thursday it would expel 10 Russian diplomats and impose new sanctions against Russia for the hacking of corporations and federal agencies, and for meddling in last year's presidential election. The sanctions target six Russian companies believed to have supported the cyberattacks known as the SolarWinds breach. The U.S. also imposed sanctions on 32 individuals and entities suspected of helping the Kremlin interfere in the election with disinformation and other tactics designed to help former President Donald Trump win. The actions signaled President Biden's desire to take a harder line against Russian President Vladimir Putin than Trump took. The 10 diplomats being kicked out include suspected Russian intelligence operatives.

3

At least 8 dead in Indianapolis FedEx shooting

A gunman killed eight people at a FedEx facility on the grounds of the Indianapolis International Airport late Thursday. Four others were rushed to hospitals with apparent gunshot wounds, one of them with critical injuries. "This is a tragedy," said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Genae Cook early Friday. The suspected attacker was found dead nearby of apparent suicide. Police could not immediately determine a motive for the mass shooting, the latest in a recent series of such attacks across the U.S. Last month, one gunman killed eight people at massage businesses across the Atlanta area, and another fatally shot 10 people at a Boulder, Colorado, supermarket.

4

Pfizer CEO: COVID-19 vaccine booster 'likely' necessary within 12 months

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says people will "likely" need to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose within 12 months after they've been fully vaccinated, CNBC reported on Thursday. "It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus," he said. Bourla also reportedly said it's possible that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 annually will be necessary. Previously, Pfizer said that an analysis of a phase 3 study found that its COVID-19 vaccine remained highly effective at least six months after the second dose. Dr. Anthony Fauci has explained it's "highly likely that it will be effective for considerably longer period of time," but "we very well may need to get booster shots to keep up the level of protection."

5

Chicago releases body-cam video of police shooting of boy

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot appealed for calm on Thursday after the release of body-camera video showing a police officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo in March. After a brief foot chase, the boy appeared to throw something behind a fence then turned to face the officer. The officer shouted, "Show me your ... hands!" Toledo raised his hands, which appeared to be empty, just before the officer fired. The officer then shouted for someone to call an ambulance and rushed to Toledo's aid. Police found a handgun by the fence. Lightfoot and Toledo family lawyers said in a joint statement that releasing the video, while hard, was "the first step in the process toward the healing of the family, the community, and our city."

6

Blinken makes unannounced visit to Kabul to show support

Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a surprise trip to Afghanistan on Thursday in a show of support for the country's government. The visit came the day after President Biden announced plans to withdraw all remaining U.S. troops by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that prompted America's longest war. "The reason I'm here, so quickly after the president's speech last night, is to demonstrate literally, by our presence, that we have an enduring and ongoing commitment to Afghanistan," Blinken said. Blinken, who arrived after NATO talks in Brussels, met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and tried to assure him that the Biden administration would do "everything we can" to push for a peace deal between Kabul and insurgent groups. Foreign forces under NATO command will leave in coordination with the U.S.

7

U.S.: Manafort associate shared Trump polling data with Russian intelligence

The Biden administration revealed Thursday that Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate of former President Donald Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort, passed along Trump campaign polling data to Russian intelligence services in 2016. The Treasury Department, which made the allegation public in a document announcing new sanctions against Russia, said Kilimnik, identified in previous government investigations as a Russian intelligence operative, also "sought to promote the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election." This establishes for the first time that private meetings between Manafort, former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, and Kilimnik were a "direct pipeline from the campaign to Russian spies at a time when the Kremlin was engaged in a covert effort to sabotage the 2016 presidential election," according to The New York Times.

8

Pelosi: 'No plans' to take up proposal to expand Supreme Court

Democratic congressional leaders said Thursday that they opposed a proposal by liberal lawmakers to expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she had "no plans" to bring the bill to the House floor, although she said she supported President Biden's creation of a commission to examine possible changes to the high court. Those could include expansion, term limits, or other reforms. Senate Judiciary Chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) also said he was not prepared to back the legislation. "Let's think this through carefully," he said. Republicans have criticized the proposal as an attempt to pack the court. The proposal was a response to the GOP's expansion of its majority to 6-3 by refusing to consider former President Obama's nomination of judge Merrick Garland, now Biden's attorney general.

9

Pence recovering after receiving pacemaker

Former Vice President Mike Pence had surgery to install a pacemaker after experiencing "symptoms associated with a slow heart rate" over the past two weeks, his office announced Thursday. The procedure was successful, and Pence is expected to return to normal activity "in the coming days," according to his office. Pence thanked the doctors, nurses, and staff at Inova Heart and Vascular Institute for their "swift professionalism and care." The surgery came a week after Pence announced the formation of his conservative advocacy group and an upcoming memoir to be published in 2023.

10

Dallas Wings select Charli Collier as No. 1 pick in WNBA draft

The Dallas Wings on Thursday picked Charli Collier, a center from the University of Texas, as the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft, which was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. Collier, who averaged 19 points and 11.3 rebounds per game this season, said her selection to play professional basketball fulfilled the dream of her late father, Elliott, who died of lung cancer at 53. "We sat down in the hospital bed, and we wrote down goals," she said. "This was one of them. He's here with me." The Wings got the first pick in a trade with the Seattle Storm, and they already had the No. 2 pick. They were the first team in the history of the league, which is heading into its 25th season, to get the top two picks. They chose 6-foot-5 center Awak Kuier, who has been playing professionally in Italy, after Collier.

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