Daily briefing

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

Rep. Liz Cheney says Trump tried to contact a Jan. 6 witness, Biden leaves on Middle East trip, and more

1

Liz Cheney says Trump tried to contact Jan. 6 witness

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) revealed at Tuesday's hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack that former President Donald Trump attempted to contact a witness in the panel's investigation. "After our last hearing, President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation, a witness you have not yet seen in these hearings," Cheney, the vice chair of the committee, said. "That person declined to answer or respond to President Trump's call, and instead alerted their lawyer to the call. Their lawyer alerted us. And this committee has supplied that information to the Department of Justice." Last week, the panel shared that a Trump ally had reached out to a witness and said Trump was monitoring the hearings and reading transcripts.

2

Biden heads to the Middle East

President Biden left Washington on Tuesday for a four-day trip to the Middle East, his first trip to the region as president. Biden will meet with 11 regional leaders and attempt to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, bring Israel and Saudi Arabia closer together, and speed up the flow of oil to the U.S. as Russia's invasion of Ukraine disrupts supply. Biden also will hold a controversial meeting with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, less than two years after Biden vowed to make the nation a "pariah" and following the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The CIA believes the crown prince is behind the killing of Khashoggi, who lived in the U.S. and wrote for The Washington Post.

3

Twitter sues Elon Musk to force completion of purchase

Twitter on Tuesday filed a lawsuit seeking to force Tesla CEO Elon Musk to go through with his $44 billion deal to buy the social media company. The suit came in response to Musk's attempt to back out of the agreement because he isn't satisfied with the information Twitter has provided to show what percentage of its accounts are fake. "Having mounted a public spectacle to put Twitter in play, and having proposed and then signed a seller-friendly merger agreement, Musk apparently believes that he — unlike every other party subject to Delaware contract law — is free to change his mind, trash the company, disrupt its operations, destroy stockholder value, and walk away," Twitter wrote in the legal complaint.

4

Biden administration urges boosters, antivirals as BA.5 spreads

The Biden administration on Tuesday urged Americans to capitalize on coronavirus boosters, testing tools, and treatments to combat the highly contagious and now-dominant Omicron subvariant BA.5. "BA.5 is something we're closely monitoring, and most importantly, we know how to manage it," said Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said BA.5 now accounts for 65 percent of U.S. COVID cases, while the closely related BA.4 causes about 16 percent of infections. The White House strategy for combating rising BA.5 infections includes vaccinations, boosters, antiviral Paxlovid medication, and antibody bebtelovimab, along with widespread testing.

5

U.S., allies work to cap Russian oil price

The United States and its allies are working on capping the price of Russian oil to deprive Moscow of revenue it needs to finance its invasion of Ukraine, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. The allies have imposed waves of sanctions to damage Russia's economy, but Moscow's main revenue-maker, oil, is helping it manage the bans. European allies are following the U.S. in a move to stop using Russian oil by the end of this year, which could reduce the supply of oil and push prices as high as $200 per barrel. The U.S. and other powerful nations plan to establish a buyer's cartel to control the price and limit it.

6

Biden to nominate anti-abortion attorney to federal judgeship

The Biden administration appears to be moving ahead with plans to nominate anti-abortion attorney Chad Meredith for a federal judgeship. The appointment looks to be part of a deal President Biden struck with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The nomination had been scheduled to be announced June 24 — the day the Supreme Court announced its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization and overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The Biden administration reportedly told Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) on June 23 that it planned to nominate Meredith to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky the following day, but the nomination was postponed in the wake of the Dobbs ruling.

7

Sri Lankan president flees country as protests intensify

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country on Wednesday following months of protests demanding his resignation, which peaked with the recent storming of his official residence. Rajapaksa, 73, flew on an Air Force plane to the Maldives, said Colonel Nalin Herath, a spokesperson for Sri Lanka's defense ministry. The president appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to serve in his place while he is "overseas." Wickremesinghe suggested on Saturday that he also would go, but so far he's still on the job despite protester demands for his ouster. Sri Lanka is currently in the grips of its worst economic crisis ever — complete with months of severe food, medicine, and fuel shortages— and government mismanagement has only made things worse.

8

Security video shows officers retreating from Uvalde classroom

Two Texas news outlets on Tuesday shared security video from Robb Elementary School in which police officers can be seen retreating from the classroom where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers. The Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV of Austin obtained copies of the video, which was recorded in a hallway, and edited them for publication. The video clip shows officers arriving three minutes after the attacker entered the Uvalde, Texas school and walked down the hallway. About 20 seconds after entering the building the 18-year-old gunman opens fire into a classroom of fourth graders, firing at least 100 shots with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle. About a minute later, several police officers approach the classroom and run away after a second burst of gunfire.

9

Ukraine says it hit Russian forces in southern Ukraine with long-range rockets

Ukraine's military said Tuesday it had launched long-range rocket attacks on Russian forces in southern Ukraine, killing 52 people in Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region. The strategically-important area is just north of Russian-annexed Crimea and has Black Sea access. Military officials said Ukrainian strikes destroyed an ammunition stockpile as Russian forces continued to hammer parts of Ukraine's east with shelling and airstrikes. But Russia-installed authorities in the town said that at least seven people were killed and 70 injured, including some civilians, per Russia's TASS news agency. The Ukrainian strikes come after the United States provided Ukraine with advanced HIMARS mobile artillery systems. 

10

'Succession' leads Emmy nominations

The 2022 Emmy nominees were announced Tuesday, and HBO's Succession led the pack with 25 nodsSuccession is up for Outstanding Drama Series against Better Call Saul, Euphoria, Ozark, Severance, Stranger Things, Yellowjackets, and Squid Game. The nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series are Abbott Elementary, Barry, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Hacks, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Only Murders in the Building, Ted Lasso, and What We Do in the Shadows. Dopesick, The Dropout, Inventing Anna, Pam & Tommy, and The White Lotus will compete for the limited series prize. Jason Bateman, Brian Cox, Lee Jung-jae, Bob Odenkirk, Adam Scott, and Jeremy Strong were nominated for lead actor in a drama, while Jodie Comer, Laura Linney, Melanie Lynskey, Sandra Oh, Reese Witherspoon, and Zendaya were nominated for the genre's best actress. The Emmy awards will air on NBC on Sept. 12.

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