Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 18, 2022

Pence urges Republicans to stop attacking FBI over search of Trump's home, Cheney considers running for president after primary drubbing, and more

1

Pence calls for Republicans to stop lashing out at FBI 

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday said it is fine for Republicans to question the Justice Department over the search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida, but "attacks on the FBI must stop." Pence also said he would give "due consideration" to any request to testify before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, although "it would be unprecedented in history for a vice president to be summoned to testify on Capitol Hill." In June, the committee described in a public hearing how Trump tried to pressure Pence into rejecting the certification of his election loss.

2

Liz Cheney considers presidential run as she focuses on stopping Trump 

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said Wednesday, a day after losing her Republican primary in a landslide, that she will focus now on keeping former President Donald Trump from returning to the White House, possibly by running for president herself. Cheney told NBC's Today that she is "thinking about" launching a 2024 White House bid and will "make a decision in the coming months." The Wyoming Republican didn't say whether she would run as a Republican or an independent. Analysts expressed doubt Cheney would gain traction either way, USA Today reported. Cheney, vice chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack by a mob of Trump supporters, said Trump "continues to pose a very grave threat — a risk to our republic."

3

Giuliani testifies to Georgia grand jury 

Rudy Giuliani testified for six hours Wednesday before a Georgia grand jury investigating efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the state's 2020 presidential election results. Giuliani, who has been identified as a target of the criminal investigation, left the courthouse without commenting. "We were ordered to be here. We showed up," said one of his lawyers, Bill Thomas. Giuliani, a former New York mayor who served as Trump's personal lawyer, is the highest-profile Trump ally to testify to the grand jury called by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Giuliani told Georgia lawmakers in late 2020 that he had evidence of widespread voter fraud in their state, a claim Georgia election officials debunked.

4

Ex-Trump Organization CFO reaches plea deal 

Allen Weisselberg, former chief financial officer of former President Donald Trump's family business, is expected to plead guilty Thursday to 15 felonies related to an alleged tax-avoidance scheme involving compensating executives with off-the-books perks. Weisselberg faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted at trial. Under the plea deal, he's expected to serve as little as 100 days. Weisselberg will have to testify at the trial of Trump's company, the Trump Organization, which could make it harder for the business to fight charges over the alleged tax scheme, The New York Times reports. But he won't be required to cooperate with the Manhattan district attorney's broader investigation of Trump, who hasn't been accused of wrongdoing in the case.

5

Walensky unveils plan to reorganize CDC after COVID criticism

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced Wednesday that the agency will reorganize its leadership in a "reset" designed to make it more flexible. The CDC has faced criticism over its response to the coronavirus pandemic and monkeypox outbreak. "I feel like it's my responsibility to lead this agency to a better place after a really challenging three years," Walensky told The Associated Press. The changes will include staffing moves and measures to release data more quickly. "We saw during COVID that CDC's structures, frankly, weren't designed to take in information, digest it, and disseminate it to the public at the speed necessary," said Jason Schwartz, a health policy researcher at the Yale School of Public Health.

6

Florida prosecutor sues DeSantis over suspension

Florida prosecutor Andrew Warren filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Gov. Ron DeSantis for suspending him over his vow not to prosecute people accused of violating laws against abortion or providing transgender health care. Warren, a Democrat who has served as an elected state attorney in the Tampa area since 2016, asked the court to order DeSantis to reinstate him, calling the suspension an abuse of power and a violation of his free speech rights. "Ron DeSantis is hoping to overturn the results of a fair election," Warren said. DeSantis didn't immediately comment on the lawsuit, but has said he suspended Warren for neglect of duty and incompetence.

7

China steps up cooperation with Russia in joint military exercises

China plans to send troops to Russia for joint military exercises in the latest example of cooperation between the two nations, China's defense ministry announced Wednesday. India, Belarus, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and other countries also will participate in the drills, which Beijing said were "unrelated to the current international and regional situation." "The aim is to deepen practical and friendly cooperation with the armies of participating countries, enhance the level of strategic collaboration among the participating parties, and strengthen the ability to respond to various security threats," China's defense ministry said. Russia, which is facing intense blowback over its invasion of Ukraine, announced last month that it would hold the "Vostok" (East) exercises from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5.

8

Minutes show Fed officials committed but cautious on rate hikes

Federal Reserve officials agreed at their July meeting they would have to continue raising interest rates and keep them high to cool the economy enough to bring down inflation, according to minutes of the meeting released Wednesday. Fed leaders raised their benchmark short-term interest rate by 0.75 basis points at the meeting, following a similar hike in June. The increases were the central bank's largest since 1994. Several Fed policy makers have said since the July hike that they would be in favor of lifting rates at least a half-point in September. The minutes indicate that officials were concerned about the risk of failing to raise rates enough to contain inflation, and also of raising them too much and hurting the economy.

9

Blast kills at least 20 at Kabul mosque

A massive explosion ripped through a mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, during evening prayers on Wednesday, killing at least 20 people, including the mosque's prominent imam. Dozens more were wounded. Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed via Twitter that the blast had killed several people, although he didn't give specifics. "The murderers of civilians and perpetrators ... will soon be punished for their crimes," he tweeted. The Taliban, which earlier this week marked the anniversary of its return to power, has claimed to have brought security to Afghanistan, but the country has faced a series of recent attacks by armed groups.

10

CVS, Walgreens, Walmart ordered to pay Ohio counties $650 million over opioids

A federal judge in Cleveland on Wednesday said CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart should pay two Ohio counties $650 million in damages for the pharmacy chains' roles in the opioid crisis. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster said the award should be used to address problems caused by the companies' distribution of opioids that harmed customers and created a public nuisance in Lake and Trumbull counties, outside Cleveland. Attorneys representing the counties had estimated the total damage they suffered at $3 billion. Lake County will get $306 million over 15 years; Trumbull County will receive $344 million. Polster told the companies to pay nearly $87 million right away. CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens said they would appeal.

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