Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 1, 2022

Supreme Court conservatives question legality of affirmative action in college admissions, prosecutors say assailant wanted to break Pelosi's "kneecaps," and more

1

Supreme Court conservatives appear open to barring affirmative action in college admissions

The Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments in two cases challenging affirmative-action admissions policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Members of the high court's newly strengthened 6-3 conservative majority appeared open to quashing the policies, questioning whether letting colleges consider race in the admissions process is legal and constitutional. Liberal justices defended affirmative-action policies, noting the benefits of diversity on college campuses and the importance of countering historic discrimination. Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions, led the challenges, saying Harvard's admissions policy discriminates against Asian Americans, and UNC's gives Black and Hispanic applicants unfair advantages.

2

Prosecutors say alleged assailant wanted to break Nancy Pelosi's 'kneecaps'

David DePape, the man accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco home and attacking her husband with a hammer, told police he wanted to take the Democratic congressional leader hostage and "break her kneecaps," according to federal charging documents. Officials charged DePape, 42, with attempted kidnapping, attempted murder, and other crimes, saying he had zip ties, rope, and tape in a backpack when he broke into the Pelosis' home and asked Paul Pelosi, 82, where Nancy Pelosi was. "This was politically motivated.," said San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, laying out parallel state felony charges. Jenkins urged people to "turn down the volume of our political rhetoric."

3

Trump Organization tax fraud trial gets underway

Manhattan prosecutors and lawyers for former President Donald Trump's family business made their opening statements Monday in the company's tax fraud trial. Prosecutors told jurors that two parts of the Trump Organization — the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp. — schemed for 15 years to help top executives evade taxes by compensating them partly with valuable off-the-books perks. The Trump real estate business' longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, has pleaded guilty. Prosecutors say he got $1.76 million in perks that included rent on a Manhattan apartment, leased Mercedes-Benz vehicles, and private school tuition for his grandchildren. Trump, who faces no charges, has called the case a "continuation of the witch hunt" that began when he announced his candidacy for the presidency.

4

Trump lawyers ask Supreme Court to block release of his tax returns

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump filed emergency requests on Monday asking the Supreme Court to block the release of his tax returns by the Internal Revenue Service to the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee. Trump's legal team wants the high court to pause the documents' release until the justices decide whether to review lower court rulings ordering the transfer of Trump's returns to the lawmakers. Unless the Supreme Court steps in, the documents could be released Thursday. Trump's lawyers argued the demand for Trump's documents "raises important questions about the separation of powers that will affect every future president." The committee says it needs Trump's returns to investigate how the IRS conducts mandatory annual audits of presidential tax returns.

5

9 arrested over deadly pedestrian bridge collapse in India

Police in India on Monday arrested nine people in connection with the deadly collapse of a recently repaired 19th-century pedestrian bridge. At least 134 people, many of them children, died when the colonial-era bridge plunged into the Machchhu River with hundreds of people on it. Security video showed a group of young men taking photos while several people tried to rock the bridge from side to side, then a cable snapped and the span plunged 33 feet into the river. "There were about 15-20 boys aged between 20-25 years who were shaking the bridge," a survivor told Reuters TV partner ANI. The suspects detained Monday included ticketing clerks and contractors.

6

Biden accuses oil companies of 'war profiteering'

President Biden on Monday threatened to push for a new windfall profits tax on big energy companies unless they help bring down fuel prices. Biden said it was "outrageous" for oil and gas companies to be making soaring profits as Russia's invasion of Ukraine drives up energy prices. He said oil companies should help consumers by increasing supply and reducing prices. "If they don't," Biden said, "they're going to pay a higher tax on their excess profits and face other restrictions." Biden's vow to work with allies in Congress to get companies to "stop war profiteering" pleased liberal Democrats, but he could find it difficult to pass such legislation if Republicans win control of Congress in next week's midterm elections.

7

Twitter ousts board, makes Musk sole director

Twitter has removed the nine members of its board and made its new owner, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, its sole director, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing a securities filing. The move was part of Musk's plan before he closed his $44 billion takeover of the social media company last Thursday, according to the filing. Musk last week fired Twitter's top executives and tweeted, "the bird is freed." He has said he plans to loosen restrictions on hate speech and misinformation, and make Twitter a haven of "free speech." Musk's inner circle worked over the weekend on plans to lay off about 25 percent of the social media company's workforce, The Washington Post reported.

8

Jewish leaders warn about rising antisemitism in GOP campaigns

Jewish leaders on Monday expressed alarm about antisemitism they warn is becoming "increasingly normalized in American politics," pointing especially to "a series of bigoted comments from associates or supporters of GOP candidates," The Washington Post reported. The perceived antisemitism, the Post recounts, includes Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker's failure to reject the support of Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, despite the rapper's recent statements attacking Jewish people. Jewish groups aligned with Democrats also have criticized Pennsylvania GOP Senate nominee Mehmet Oz for a planned weekend appearance with GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who has "extremist ties" and has been accused of making antisemitic remarks about Democratic rival Josh Shapiro.

9

Suspect arrested for 2017 murders of Delphi, Indiana, teenagers

Indiana State Police announced Monday that they have arrested Richard Allen, 50, on murder charges in the deaths of Indiana teenagers Abigail Williams and Liberty German, whose 2017 disappearance and murders shocked the nation. Allen pleaded not guilty. His arrest followed a nearly six-year investigation that began when Williams, 13, and German, 14, disappeared after going for a hike in the woods in rural Delphi, Indiana, on a day off from school. Their bodies were soon discovered following an extensive search. The case generated significant media attention partly because Williams had posted a picture of her and German on Snapchat shortly before they were killed, and officials also released a grainy image and audio recording of the alleged killer speaking to the girls.

10

Federal judge dismisses Meadows lawsuit over Jan. 6 committee subpoenas

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols on Monday dismissed a lawsuit by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows seeking to block two subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. Nichols wrote that the Constitution's Speech or Debate clause shields the committee from Meadows' lawsuit because its members are conducting legislative duties. He also wrote that Meadows is a "proper subject" for the committee's investigation because of evidence that he "was in contact with" former President Donald Trump on Jan. 6 "and participated in efforts to challenge the election results." Meadows argued that the subpoenas — one for his testimony and another to Verizon for his phone and text data — were "overly broad and unduly burdensome." He can appeal the new ruling.

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