Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 5, 2022

Four current, ex-cops face federal charges over Breonna Taylor's death, a Russian judge sentences WNBA star Brittney Griner to 9 years for drug conviction, and more

1

Feds charge 4 current and former cops over Breonna Taylor's death

Four current and former Louisville, Kentucky, police officers have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the raid that killed Breonna Taylor inside her home in March 2020. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday that Kelly Goodlett, Joshua Jaynes, and Kyle Meany are being charged with falsifying information on a search warrant. Brett Hankison was charged with deprivation of rights under color of law. The Louisville police department has fired Jaynes and Hankison, who was accused of recklessly firing shots that pierced a wall and entered a neighbor's apartment. Garland said that the officers violated Taylor's Fourth Amendment rights and needlessly created a dangerous situation. "Breonna Taylor should still be alive," he said.

2

Russian judge sentences Brittney Griner to 9 years in prison

A Russian judge on Thursday found WNBA star Brittney Griner guilty on drug charges and sentenced her to nine years in prison. Griner, 31, was arrested at a Moscow airport shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine, and accused of possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. The Phoenix Mercury center and two-time Olympic gold medal winner told the court she had packed in a hurry and put in the cartridges by accident, never intending to violate Russian law. The judge rejected defense arguments and convicted Griner of smuggling drugs with criminal intent. President Biden called for Russia to "release her immediately," saying the sentence was a "reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney."

3

Democratic leaders and Sinema reach deal on tax, climate bill

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) announced Thursday that she will "move forward" with Democrats' health care, climate, and deficit-reduction package after party leaders agreed to drop a $14 billion tax increase on some wealthy investors, and adjust a new 15 percent minimum tax on corporations. Sinema was the last Democratic holdout after party leaders reached an unexpected deal with another moderate, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.). Provided the Senate's top rules official signs off on the plan, Democrats will be able to try to approve the Inflation Reduction Act as soon as this weekend using a process known as reconciliation, which requires a simple majority and allows Democrats to sidestep a Republican filibuster. With the Senate split 50-50, Democrats can't afford any defections.

4

U.S. declares public health emergency over monkeypox

The Biden administration on Thursday declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency as cases increase. "We're prepared to take our response to the next level on this virus," Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said. The emergency declaration came nearly two weeks after the World Health Organization declared the virus' rapid spread a public health emergency of international concern. The outbreak was first detected in Britain in May. Since then, more than 26,000 cases have been reported in more than 80 countries. About 6,600 cases have been confirmed in the United States, and the Biden administration has faced criticism for its handling of the outbreak, including missing opportunities to vaccinate people more quickly.

5

DeSantis suspends prosecutor who refused to enforce abortion law

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Thursday suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren for vowing not to prosecute doctors for performing abortions or providing gender-affirming care for transgender people. DeSantis said the Tampa prosecutor has "put himself publicly above the law." The Republican governor's removal of the twice-elected Democrat sparked sharp criticism from Democratic state lawmakers and other officials. State Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book said DeSantis was "behaving more like a dictator than 'America's governor,'" and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democratic candidate for governor, said Warren's suspension was "a politically motivated attack on a universally respected state attorney democratically elected to exercise prosecutorial discretion."

6

Jury says Alex Jones should pay Sandy Hook victim's parents at least $4.1 million

A Texas jury decided Thursday that Infowars founder Alex Jones should pay the parents of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre $4.1 million in compensatory damages for spreading the false claim that the shooting, which killed 20 children and six educators, was a hoax intended to justify gun restrictions. The jury will hear evidence of Jones' wealth to determine how much the conspiracy theorist should pay the parents, Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, in punitive damages. Lewis and Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis died in the attack, testified that Jones' followers have harassed and threatened them for years, accusing them of lying about their son's death.

7

Police change account of crash that killed Rep. Jackie Walorski

Investigators on Thursday changed their account of the car crash that killed Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and three others a day earlier. The Elkhart County Sheriff's Department said new information indicates it was the Toyota Rav-4 carrying Walorski and two aides — 27-year-old Zach Potts and 28-year-old Emma Thomson — that crossed the center line, leading to the collision. The initial report incorrectly said it was the oncoming Buick LeSabre driven by Edith Schmucker, 56, that had veered out of its lane. Police now say Potts, who was Walorski's district director and the local Republican Party chair, "crossed the center line for reasons that are unknown at this time." All four died in the wreck.

8

Ex-Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez charged over alleged bribery scheme

Former Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez was arrested Thursday on bribery charges. Vázquez, 62, is accused of plotting the bribe scheme with a former FBI agent, a Venezuelan Italian bank owner, and a political consultant, according to the Justice Department. Vázquez allegedly ousted a high-ranking government official in exchange for more than $300,000 for her unsuccessful 2020 campaign. Vázquez, the second woman to serve as Puerto Rico's governor, was elevated to the position in 2019 after protests forced out her predecessor, and she once promised to fight corruption. "No one is above the law and the victim of this crime, the people, deserve better," Joseph González, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Juan Field Office, said in a statement.

9

China escalates military drills, sanctions Pelosi over Taiwan trip

China continued air and sea military drills in waters near Taiwan on Friday and announced unspecified sanctions against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as tensions continued to escalate over her trip to the self-governing island, which Beijing considers part of its territory. Taiwan's Defense Ministry called the drills "highly provocative." Some of the missiles China has launched during what it called "unprecedented" live-fire drills flew over Taiwan. Five landed in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone, prompting a formal protest from Japan. Pelosi, wrapping up her Asia tour in Japan, said Friday in Tokyo that China cannot isolate Taiwan by preventing American officials from visiting the country. China, which doesn't want foreign governments to engage with Taiwan, said Pelosi's trip undermined its sovereignty.

10

Trump-backed Kari Lake wins Arizona's GOP nomination for governor

Former news anchor Kari Lake, a prominent backer of former President Donald Trump's unfounded claim of election fraud, has won the Republican primary for Arizona governor. The Tuesday vote remained too close to call for two days, but Lake was declared the winner on Thursday. She got 46.8 percent of the vote. Karrin Taylor Robson, a lawyer and businesswoman backed by term-limited GOP Gov. Doug Ducey and former Vice President Mike Pence, was close behind with 44 percent. Lake's victory marked a defeat for the state's GOP establishment and added another primary win for Trump-backed election deniers. "Arizonans who have been forgotten by the establishment just delivered a political earthquake," Lake said after the race was called.

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