Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 17, 2022

Pence advisers tell Jan. 6 panel Trump was told overturning election was illegal, European leaders back Ukraine bid to join E.U., and more

1

Pence advisers: Trump was told overturning election was illegal 

Greg Jacob, a legal adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, and conservative retired federal judge J. Michael Luttig appeared Thursday before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Jacob testified that aides to then-President Donald Trump told him repeatedly it would not be legal for Pence to overturn President Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election, but Trump and his allies pushed for him to do it anyway. Luttig, who advised Pence about his Jan. 6 duties, said if the vice president had done what Trump demanded, he would have sparked "a revolution within a constitutional crisis." Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said the panel would invite Ginni Thomas, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' wife, to testify about her efforts to overturn the election.

2

European leaders visit Kyiv, back Ukraine bid to join E.U.

The leaders of France, Germany, and Italy met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Thursday and told him they, along with Romania, would support Ukraine's candidacy to join the European Union. The visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi came after the three leading E.U. nations faced criticism for not backing Ukraine firmly enough as it fiercely resists Russian forces who invaded in February. Macron said France will send six more Caesar truck-mounted howitzers, adding to the 12 already delivered. "We will remain by your side ... to defend your sovereignty, your territorial integrity, and your freedom," Macron said.

3

Golden State wins 4th NBA championship in 8 years

The Golden State Warriors beat the Boston Celtics 103-90 in Game 6 of the NBA finals on Thursday night to win their fourth championship in eight years. Steph Curry led the Warriors with 34 points — his fifth 30-plus game of the series — and was named Finals MVP. Curry made six 3-pointers after failing to make any in the Warriors' Game 5 win, snapping a 233-game 3-pointer streak. Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green also scored in double digits for the Warriors. Curry, Thompson, Green, and Andre Iguodala were all on the teams that won championships in 2015, 2017, and 2018. "We've had so many great players," said coach Steve Kerr, "but Steph, ultimately, is why this run happens."

4

U.K. approves Assange extradition to U.S.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, where he faces espionage charges. Assange has 14 days to appeal. A Virginia grand jury indicted Assange over the publishing of secret military records and diplomatic cables about Afghanistan and Iraq obtained by former Army private Chelsea Manning in 2010. Assange evaded arrest by holing up in London's Ecuadoran Embassy for seven years, but has been in a British prison since 2019. His lawyers argued he might commit suicide if subjected to harsh conditions in U.S. custody. The Home Office said in a statement that British courts have not found that extraditing Assange would be "oppressive, unjust," or "incompatible with his human rights."

5

Photo appears to show 2 Americans captured by Russia in Ukraine

A relative of one of the two or three Americans who went missing fighting Russian forces in Ukraine said Thursday that the State Department is aware of a photo circulating on social media platform Telegram that appears to show two of the men, Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, in the back of a military truck with their hands tied. Earlier Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. had no confirmation from Russia that Drueke, 39, and Huynh, 27, were in Russian custody, and the department is aware of reports that a third American who traveled to Ukraine to fight Russians is also missing. Relatives identified the third man as Grady Kurpasi, a U.S. Marine veteran, CNN reports. These would be the first of hundreds of American fighters in Ukraine captured by Russia.

6

China launches 3rd aircraft carrier

China on Thursday launched its third aircraft carrier as it continues its push to modernize its military. The new ship, named the Fujian after the province facing Taiwan, is China's most advanced yet. It is the country's first carrier with a catapult-assisted launch system, a major upgrade from the less advanced ski jump-style system used on China's first two carriers, the Liaoning and the Shandong, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank. The catapult system is like the ones on U.S. aircraft carriers. It will give China, which has the biggest naval force in the world, the ability to launch aircraft faster and with more ammunition. The Fujian also has blocking devices and other modern upgrades.

7

Judge sentences anti-vaccine doctor for trespassing at Capitol Jan. 6

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Dr. Simone Gold, a Beverly Hills physician who founded the anti-vaccine group America's Frontline Doctors, to 60 days in prison for illegally entering the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. The judge also ordered Gold, whose group has spread debunked claims about COVID-19, to pay a $9,500 fine, the biggest yet for the nearly 200 rioters already sentenced. America's Frontline Doctors has done fundraising claiming Gold was being persecuted for giving a speech before the riot. "Jan. 6 was about a lot of things, but it wasn't about free speech or COVID vaccinations," U.S. district Judge Christopher Cooper told Gold during the sentencing. "The only reason you are here is where and when and how you chose to express your views."

8

London magistrate releases Kevin Spacey on bail

A London judge on Thursday granted Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey unconditional bail after he appeared in court to face charges of sexual offenses against three men. Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram set a July 14 hearing for Spacey to enter a formal plea. Spacey's lawyer, Patrick Gibbs, said the former House of Cards star "strenuously denies any and all criminality in this case." Spacey is charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of penetrative sexual activity without consent. The charges stem from alleged incidents in London between March 2005 and August, and another in western England in 2013. Spacey's career was derailed in 2017 when actor Anthony Rapp accused him of assault decades earlier, a charge Spacey also denies.

9

Stocks plunge as recession fears mount, but futures rise

U.S. stocks plunged on Thursday as mounting concerns about high inflation and the threat of a recession rattled Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.4 percent and closed below 30,000 for the first time since January 2021. It is now down 18 percent this year. The S&P 500 fell 3.3 percent and is now down 23 percent from its record high. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 4.1 percent on Thursday, closing 32 percent below its all-time high. Stocks rallied Wednesday after the Federal Reserve sharply raised interest rates to fight inflation, and U.S. stock futures rose early Friday. The Dow and the S&P 500 were up 0.8 percent and 1 percent at 6:15 a.m. ET. The Nasdaq was up 1.1 percent.

10

Sue Bird announces retirement from WNBA

Basketball superstar Sue Bird announced Thursday that she will retire from the WNBA after the 2022 season. Bird, 41, had said in February when she re-signed with the Seattle Storm that this would probably be her last year in the league. The five-time Olympic gold medalist reportedly came close to retiring last year, before deciding to stick around for her 19th season as a player. She sat out two other seasons due to injuries. But Bird said she knew as she packed for a road trip that ends with a Sunday game in her home state of New York that this would be her "last time playing in New York. My last time playing in front of my family and friends." She said she is excited about playing one last time in front of the people "who have watched me growing up," but "it's also bittersweet."

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