Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 13, 2022

McCarthy refuses to cooperate with Jan. 6 committee, inflation rises to fastest pace in four decades, and more

1

McCarthy refuses to talk to House Jan. 6 committee

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Wednesday turned down a request for an interview with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, calling the panel "illegitimate" and accusing it of "abuse of power." The committee earlier in the day sent McCarthy a request for an interview about his communication with then-President Donald Trump and his White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, during and after the insurrection. "You have acknowledged speaking directly with the former president while the violence was underway on Jan. 6," the panel's chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), wrote in the letter. Thompson said McCarthy also reportedly talked with Trump after the mob stormed the Capitol seeking to prevent lawmakers from certifying President Biden's election victory.

2

Consumer prices rise at fastest pace in 4 decades

U.S. inflation rose to an annual rate of 7 percent last year, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. The jump in the consumer price index in December, compared to a year earlier, was the fastest since 1982. It was the third straight month with an annual inflation rate above 6 percent. Pandemic-related supply problems contributed to the slight increase from November's 6.8 percent pace. The core price index, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose by 5.5 percent in December compared to a year earlier, the fastest since 1991. "While inflation is likely to peak in the next few months, the overall pace is going to remain a challenge for consumers, businesses, and policy," said Sarah House, director and senior economist at Wells Fargo.

3

Biden administration to send schools 10 million COVID tests monthly

The Biden administration will provide schools with 5 million COVID-19 rapid tests and 5 million more sensitive, lab-based PCR tests each month, starting this month, to counter supply shortages and help schools stay open, the White House announced Wednesday. Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, will join the administration's pandemic-response team to supervise the testing push. The Biden administration also recently announced that it was requiring private insurers to reimburse Americans for COVID tests, and launching a website where people will be able to order free tests to be shipped to them. The increase in the supply of tests comes as the Omicron-variant-fueled wave of new cases is nearing its expected peak.

4

Trump hangs up on NPR interviewer who pressed him about false election claims

Former President Donald Trump hung up nine minutes into what was supposed to be a 15-minute interview after NPR's Steve Inskeep pressed him on his false claims that election fraud cost him the 2020 presidential election. Trump insisted during the interview that the only way to hold legitimate elections is to "solve the problem of the presidential rigged election of 2020." Trump repeated his criticism of Republican Sen. Mike Rounds (S.D.), who said Sunday that the 2020 election was fair, saying that Rounds was "totally wrong" and that some Republican senators are turning on him "because Mitch McConnell is a loser." Inskeep noted that numerous judges have rejected efforts by Trump allies to overturn 2020 election results, finding no evidence fraud affected the results.

5

Boris Johnson apologizes for attending garden party during lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized Wednesday for attending a garden party outside his 10 Downing Street offices in May 2020 while the United Kingdom was under a tight coronavirus lockdown. "I want to apologize," said Johnson, who initially didn't acknowledge attending the party, and still insists it was a work event. "I know the rage they feel with me and with the government I lead when they think in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules." Johnson made the remarks in a tense appearance in Parliament. Members of the opposition Labour Party are demanding he resign over the scandal. Johnson has asked lawmakers to await the results of an investigation before passing judgment.

6

NATO-Russia talks on Ukraine end in stalemate

Russia and NATO ended four hours of talks in Brussels about Ukraine with no resolution on Wednesday, in the second round of discussions aimed at preventing Moscow from invading Ukraine again. The U.S. and Russia held talks in Geneva on Sunday and Monday, and Ukraine will participate on Thursday, when Russian diplomats meet in Vienna with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has sent 100,000 troops to the Ukraine border, is demanding that NATO guarantee Ukraine and Georgia never join the alliance. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that all 30 NATO members agreed that NATO can't let Russia dictate who can join, and warned there was "a real risk of a new armed conflict in Europe."

7

U.S. imposes sanctions after North Korea missile tests

The Treasury Department on Wednesday announced it was imposing sanctions on six North Koreans, one Russian, and a Russian company for helping Pyongyang acquire supplies for its weapons program from Russia and China. The penalties came after North Korea completed a series of missile launches, including two last week. These are the first sanctions directly targeting North Korea's weapons programs that the Biden administration has imposed. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the U.S. is still committed to seeking diplomatic solutions to the standoff with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons and missile programs, although so far Biden administration efforts to restart a dialogue have not succeeded.

8

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice 'extremely unwell' with COVID

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) postponed his State of the State address, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, after testing positive for COVID-19. Justice, 70, said he was "extremely unwell" but "thankful to the Lord above that I've been vaccinated, I've been boosted, and that I have an incredible support system, especially my loving family." Justice added that his wife, Cathy, tested negative for the virus. Justice's office said he was experiencing moderate symptoms, including headache, fever, congestion, and coughing. He received a monoclonal antibody treatment and is recovering at home. West Virginia's top COVID-19 adviser, Dr. Clay Marsh, said he has "full confidence that Gov. Justice will recover quickly, and it's because he chose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and his booster shot."

9

Judge declines to dismiss sex-abuse lawsuit against Prince Andrew

A federal judge on Wednesday declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by an American woman, Virginia Giuffre, against Britain's Prince Andrew over her allegation that he sexually abused her when she was 17. The prince's lawyers argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because of an old legal settlement between Giuffre and the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, who Giuffre said arranged the abusive encounters. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said that the lawsuit could proceed because the settlement between Giuffre and Epstein didn't involve Prince Andrew. Giuffre said Andrew sexually abused her in encounters arranged by Epstein, who died in prison awaiting a sex-trafficking trial, and his companion Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted last month for luring girls for Epstein to abuse.

10

Pop singer Ronnie Spector dies at 78

Ronnie Spector, leader of '60s girl group the Ronettes, died Wednesday following a short battle with cancer. She was 78. Born Veronica, Spector started the Ronettes in the late 1950s with her sister, Estelle Bennett, and cousin, Nedra Talley. Their debut — and only — album, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica, was released in 1964. Their hits included "Be My Baby" and "Baby I Love You," and they toured England with the Rolling Stones. The Ronettes broke up in 1967 after touring Germany, and Spector went on to release four solo albums. Spector, known for her style and love of bee-hives, wrote in her memoir, Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, that the Ronettes "weren't afraid to be hot. That was our gimmick."

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