10 things you need to know today: June 30, 2022
The Jan. 6 committee subpoenas former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, NATO formally invites Finland and Sweden to join, and more
Jan. 6 committee subpoenas former White House counsel Pat Cipollone
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack on Wednesday subpoenaed former White House counsel Pat Cipollone to discuss legal concerns he had raised "about President Trump's activities on Jan. 6 and in the days that preceded." The subpoena came a day after Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, told the committee that Cipollone had warned White House officials would "get charged with every crime imaginable" if they let Trump accompany his supporters to the Capitol on Jan. 6. Forty-eight percent of Americans now say Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in Jan. 6, a new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds, while 31 percent said he shouldn't be charged.
NATO formally invites Finland, Sweden to join
NATO on Wednesday formally invited Finland and Sweden to join the Western military alliance, launching a months-long ratification process. Turkey on Tuesday had agreed to drop its opposition to the expansion after resolving its differences with the two Nordic nations over their support for Kurdish rebels Turkey considers terrorists. Adding Sweden and Finland to NATO was part of a united response across Europe to counter the threat posed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which many leaders in the region fear could lead to further aggression by Moscow. "The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure," the alliance said a statement.
U.S. to deploy troops to Poland as NATO responds to Russian aggression
The United States will station troops permanently in Poland for the first time as part of its biggest European military expansion since the Cold War, President Biden announced Wednesday at the opening of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Spain. "We're stepping up. We're proving that NATO is more needed now than it ever has been," Biden said. The U.S. move to expand its presence in the region with more troops, fighter aircraft, air-defense systems, and Navy ships comes after NATO announced plans to increase the number of troops on high alert from 40,000 to 300,000 in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Biden said the U.S. would "respond to the changed security environment to defend every inch of allied territory."
Ukraine announces biggest prisoner exchange yet with Russia
Ukraine on Wednesday announced its largest prisoner exchange with Russia since Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces invaded four months ago. Russia is returning 144 soldiers to Ukraine, including dozens who participated in the grueling attempt to defend the key port city of Mariupol. Denis Pushilin, the head of Russian proxy forces in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, said Ukraine would return the same number of Russian and pro-Russian forces under the agreement. More than 2,500 Ukrainian fighters surrendered in mid-May after a months-long last stand in bunkers and tunnels under Mariupol's vast Azovstal steel factory. Ukraine has pledged to do everything it can to free the Mariupol defenders.
French court finds 20 men guilty in 2015 Paris terrorist attacks
A panel of French judges on Wednesday found 20 people guilty of a string of terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in 2015, in the deadliest peacetime assault in French history. Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the team of 10 Islamic State extremists who committed the shootings and bombings, was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Nineteen others were found guilty of providing the attackers with logistical help in the assaults, which targeted the Bataclan music hall, six cafes, and the Stade de France sports stadium. Those defendants, convicted on charges that included being accomplices to murder and hostage-taking, received sentences of two years to life in prison.
Justice Stephen Breyer officially being replaced by Ketanji Brown Jackson
Justice Stephen Breyer has notified President Biden in a letter that his retirement from the Supreme Court will take effect at noon ET on Thursday. Breyer, part of the court's three-member liberal minority, told Biden it has been a "great honor" to be part of the "effort to maintain our Constitution and the Rule of Law." Breyer said newly confirmed Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated by Biden after Breyer announced his plan to step down in January, was ready to be sworn in and join the court. Breyer, 83, was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
Ginni Thomas' lawyer asks for 'better justification' to testify about Jan. 6
A lawyer for Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has sent a letter to the House Jan. 6 committee asking for a "better justification" for having her testify before the panel, NBC News reported Wednesday. News reports have described emails between Thomas and John Eastman, a former lawyer for then-President Donald Trump who wrote memos arguing that then-Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 election results. Thomas also exchanged text messages with Trump's White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, questioning the legitimacy of the election results, but her lawyer, Mark Paoletta, said she "never claimed to have first-hand knowledge about election fraud."
FBI investigates sex-abuse allegations against New Orleans Catholic clergy
The FBI is investigating allegations of decades of sex abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in New Orleans, The Associated Press reported Wednesday, citing officials and others with knowledge of the situation. Agents have interviewed more than a dozen alleged victims this year as part of an expanding inquiry. The rare federal investigation is exploring whether predatory priests could be prosecuted under the Mann Act, an anti-sex-trafficking law making it a crime to transport a person across state lines for illegal sex, AP reports. Some of the New Orleans accusations involve alleged sexual abuse by clergy during trips to camps and amusement parks in Mississippi, Texas, and Florida.
Amazon temporarily caps Plan B purchases
Amazon said Wednesday it will temporarily limit purchases of the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B as demand spikes following the Supreme Court's Friday decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to have an abortion. Amazon said it will limit customers to three of the so-called morning-after pills, intended to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, to help avert a shortage. Rite Aid and CVS temporarily placed similar caps on Plan B purchases, but CVS said late Tuesday it was relaxing the restrictions because sales had "returned to normal." Emergency contraceptive pills are different from prescription "medication abortion" drugs, which are taken within 10 weeks of fertilization.
R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in sex-trafficking case
A judge on Wednesday sentenced R&B singer R. Kelly to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking and racketeering. "The public has to be protected from behaviors like this," the judge told Kelly, convicted last year after facing years of allegations of sexually abusing underage girls going back to the 1990s. Prosecutors said Kelly ran a criminal enterprise preying "upon women and girls who attended his concerts." The charges centered around sexual abuse of six victims. One of several accusers who spoke during the sentencing hearing said: "Many of us have been waiting for this day to come." Kelly was previously acquitted on child pornography charges in a separate trial in 2008.