Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 21, 2022

Senators reach a bipartisan deal aiming to protect future election counts, Russia expands its war aims in Ukraine, and more

1

Senators reach bipartisan deal aimed at preventing another Jan. 6

A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday released a proposal to update the Electoral Count Act to prevent a repeat of the Jan. 6, 2021, attempt by former President Donald Trump and his supporters to overturn President Biden's election. Trump and his allies used the 1887 law to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to block certification of the 2020 presidential election results. Bipartisan negotiators, led by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), propose explicitly stating that the vice president's role in tallying Electoral College votes is strictly symbolic. The changes would also raise the bar for lawmakers wishing to challenge an election result. The senators urged members of "both parties to support these simple, common-sense reforms."

2

Russia expands its wartime goals in Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Moscow now aims to take control of part of Ukraine's south, not just the eastern territories where its military offensive has been focused in recent weeks. Lavrov said Russia's objectives could expand further if Western countries continue to provide Ukraine with more long-range weapons, including the HIMARS multiple rocket launchers the United States has sent. "This is an ongoing process," Lavrov told RIA Novosti, the Russian state news agency. Ukraine's military has used the rocket systems to target far-off Russian munition depots and other facilities, limiting Russian advances. Lavrov's comments marked a departure from previous statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia wanted to "demilitarize" Ukraine but not occupy it.

3

Judge orders Giuliani to testify in Georgia election inquiry

A New York judge has ordered Rudy Giuliani to testify Aug. 9 before the Fulton County, Georgia, special grand jury investigating possible 2020 election interference by former President Donald Trump and some of his allies, court filings in Georgia revealed Wednesday. Because Giuliani and some others who have received subpoenas don't live in Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had to get judges in their home states to order them to appear. Giuliani, Trump's former private lawyer, pushed debunked voter-fraud claims to a Georgia state Senate subcommittee and the public, Willis said in her petition seeking his testimony, and there is evidence he was "part of a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump campaign to influence" the election results in Georgia and elsewhere.

4

Heat wave spreads to Central Europe

The heat wave that brought record-high temperatures to Britain and fueled wildfires in Portugal, Spain, France, and Greece extended into Central Europe on Wednesday. Several cities in Germany reported all-time highs. The temperature in Hamburg, for example, jumped to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the farthest northern location in Germany ever to record a temperature above 40 degrees Celsius, according to the German weather website Kachelmannwetter. More than 1,000 deaths have been blamed on the extreme weather in Portugal alone. The European Union's Copernicus climate monitoring service warned that extremely dry and hot conditions are increasing the likelihood that wildfires could spread.

5

Memos, emails clarify Trump strategy for census citizenship question

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said in a report released Wednesday that newly uncovered draft memos and secret emails confirmed that the Trump administration pushed to add a citizenship question to the last census to discourage non-citizens from participating in the count. The alleged goal was to cause heavily Democratic areas to be undercounted and changing congressional apportionment to benefit Republicans. Trump's then-Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had told Congress that the question was needed to get better data and help enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that the claim "appears to have been contrived," and the Trump administration had to drop the question from the 2020 census.

6

Biden announces plan to help address extreme heat

President Biden on Wednesday unveiled a $2.3 billion plan to help communities deal with extreme heat, but he stopped short of declaring a national climate emergency. "As president, I have a responsibility to act with urgency and resolve when our nation faces clear and present danger," Biden said at a former Massachusetts coal plant that is now part of an offshore wind-farm project. "And that's what climate change is about. It is literally, not figuratively, a clear and present danger." The statement came days after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), a moderate Democrat from a coal state, ruled out voting for a new clean energy bill, effectively killing it in a 50-50 Senate.

7

E.U. tells member states to cut gas usage as Nord Stream pipeline reopens

The European Union on Wednesday told its member states to slash their usage of natural gas consumption by 15 percent until March due to ongoing concerns about the stability of deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline from Russia to Germany. The pipeline accounts for more than a third of Russian gas exports to the trading bloc. Gas flows through the pipeline resumed Thursday at reduced levels after a 10-day shutdown for maintenance. Russian President Vladimir Putin said a day earlier that any delays by the West in providing parts or repairs could result in further cuts. Supplies through Nord Stream were reduced before the maintenance shutdown due to a dispute over sanctions imposed to punish Russia for invading Ukraine.

8

Uvalde school superintendent recommends firing police chief

The top school official in Uvalde, Texas, has recommended firing school district police Chief Pete Arredondo, who has faced harsh criticism for his handling of the mass shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School nearly two months ago. The city's school board said Wednesday it will consider the matter at a special meeting Saturday. The board resisted earlier calls to fire Arredondo, but it faced intensifying pressure this week after a Texas House committee released a scathing report on failures by numerous police agencies. The lawmakers said Arredondo, identified as the on-scene commander who delayed a confrontation with the gunman for more than an hour, failed to follow his own protocols for stopping school shooters.

9

Italy's prime minister resigns after failing to salvage coalition

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi submitted his resignation Thursday for a second time after failing to bring his fragile governing coalition back together. Draghi won a vote of confidence on Wednesday, but one of his coalition partners, the populist Five Star Movement, said it wouldn't participate in the government, effectively signaling its collapse and paving the wave for uncertain snap elections in September or October. Draghi told members of Parliament he will meet with President Sergio Mattarella about his plan to step down. Mattarella reportedly has asked him to stay on as head of a caretaker government. Mattarella last week rejected Draghi's first attempt to resign, urging him to continue trying to revive his coalition.

10

Trump family gathers for Ivana Trump's New York City funeral

Former President Donald Trump, his children, and about 100 other mourners gathered Wednesday for the private funeral of Trump's former wife Ivana Trump, who died last week at 73 after falling down the stairs of her Manhattan apartment. The Czech-born businesswoman and socialite's children, Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric, eulogized her as fiercely independent. "Growing up, my mother didn't tell me a woman could do anything she wanted to — she showed me," said Ivanka Trump, 40. After her 1977-to-1992 marriage to the man she called "The Donald" ended, Ivana Trump launched a line of beauty products and clothing. She set sales records on the Home Shopping Network and QVC, Eric Trump said, adding, "People adored Ivana."

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