Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 3, 2022

Biden warns of threats to democracy, Parkland school shooter sentenced to life without parole, and more


Biden says election denial, intimidation threaten democracy

President Biden warned on Wednesday that American democracy is under threat as former President Donald Trump's "Big Lie" about election fraud fuels voter intimidation and "election deniers" ahead of next week's midterm elections. "In our bones, we know democracy is at risk," Biden said in a primetime address given just blocks from where a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, aiming to prevent Congress from certifying Trump's election loss to Biden. Biden's speech amounted to a closing argument for Democrats ahead of the midterms, with Republicans expected to take control of the House, and the Senate remaining a toss-up. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) told Fox News Digital before the speech that Biden is "dividing the nation instead of uniting it."


Parkland school shooter sentenced to life without parole

Broward County, Florida, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer on Wednesday sentenced Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz to life in prison without parole for the 2018 massacre of 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Scherer followed the jury's recommendation to spare Cruz, 24, the death penalty, which prosecutors had sought. But Scherer imposed the sentences for 34 counts of murder and attempted murder consecutively, a symbolic move to make it clear that Cruz would never get out of prison. Scherer told victims and their relatives she admired their strength, and promised that the victims "will not be forgotten."


Fed hikes interest rates 0.75 percent

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced its fourth straight 0.75 percent interest rate hike as it continues to try to cool the economy to bring down the highest inflation in decades. The Fed said at the close of its two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee that it was raising its benchmark short-term interest rate target to 3.75 percent to 4 percent, the highest since January 2008. The string of unusually big hikes amount to the central bank's most aggressive moves since the 1980s. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said after the meeting the Fed would have to "be more restrictive" to contain stubborn high inflation, "and that narrows the path to a soft landing."


Russia rejoins deal guaranteeing safety for Ukraine grain shipments

Russia said Wednesday it would resume its participation in a deal guaranteeing safe passage for ships exporting grain from Ukraine. Days earlier, Moscow suspended the agreement, citing drone attacks against its Black Sea Fleet ships in the port of Sevastopol in occupied Crimea. The restoration of the pact after talks in Turkey eased concerns that the clash could disrupt grain shipments and threaten already strained global food supplies. After speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the agreement was set to resume Wednesday. The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told CNN she was "delighted" because the shipments are "providing needed food to the world."


Leading House Democrat questions Capitol Police about attack on Pelosi's husband

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) on Wednesday demanded information on why the Capitol Police failed to prevent last week's attack against Paul Pelosi, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) husband, in their San Francisco home last week. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Capitol Police security video showed a man carrying a hammer breaking into the house, but nobody was monitoring the camera at the time. Lofgren, one of the most senior House Democrats and chair of the Administration Committee, wrote a letter to Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger asking why the department hadn't stepped up security to spouses and "other family members of the congressional leaders in the presidential line of succession," considering that Pelosi "receives the most threats of any member of Congress."


North Korea continues missile tests with failed ICBM flight

North Korea continued an unprecedented series of missile tests with the suspected launch of its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, but South Korea's military said the ICBM failed in mid-flight. Pyongyang also launched two short-range missiles. The tests prompted Japan to issue a rare emergency alert early Thursday, although the ICBM "disappeared over the Sea of Japan" before it could cross the Japanese archipelago, according to Japan's defense minister, Yasukazu Hamada. The latest tests came after North Korea launched 23 missiles on Wednesday, the most it has fired in a single day. The latest tests, which South Korea called "deplorable," increased tensions as the United States and South Korea stage their largest-ever joint air drills, which Pyongyang has condemned as "aggressive and provocative."


Report: Trump lawyers viewed Justice Thomas as 'only chance' to block election certification

Emails published Wednesday by Politico indicate that former President Donald Trump's lawyers believed that an emergency appeal to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was their "only chance" to block certification of Trump's 2020 election loss in Georgia. Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro wrote on Dec. 31, 2020, that Trump's legal team needed to "frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue some sort of stay ... saying Georgia is in legitimate doubt" before Congress met on Jan. 6, 2021, to certify President Biden's victory. Another Trump attorney, John Eastman, said a favorable opinion from Thomas, who handles emergency appeals from Georgia, could "kick the Georgia legislature into gear" to help overturn Trump's loss. The emails were among eight Eastman sought to keep from the House Jan. 6 Committee.


Ethiopia, Tigray reach ceasefire deal

Ethiopia's government and Tigrayan regional forces have agreed to permanently halt fighting in their two-year conflict, which has left thousands dead and pushed hundreds of thousands near famine. African Union envoy Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president of Nigeria, said Wednesday in the first briefing on peace talks in South Africa that the two sides had reached a deal calling for "orderly, smooth, and coordinated disarmament," as well as "restoration of law and order" and services and "unhindered access to humanitarian supplies." "It is now for all of us to honor this agreement," said the lead negotiator for Ethiopia's government, Redwan Hussein. Lead Tigray negotiator Getachew Reda said the deal required "painful concessions."


Witness says Oath Keepers founder urged Trump to stay in power by force

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes urged then-President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack to stay in power by force with the help of paramilitary fighters, a witness said Wednesday in the federal seditious conspiracy trial of Rhodes and four other members of the extremist group. Rhodes, who is accused of leading a months-long plot to prevent President Biden from taking office, said in a Jan. 10, 2021, recorded meeting that protesters at the Capitol "should have brought rifles" when Congress met to certify Biden's election victory over Trump, and "we could have fixed it right then and there." He reportedly boasted during the meeting that he would have killed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).


DOJ grants partial immunity to top Trump adviser in classified documents case

The Justice Department has offered limited immunity from prosecution to Kash Patel, a top adviser to former President Donald Trump, in exchange for his cooperation in the government's investigation into Trump's unauthorized retention of classified documents, several news outlets reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. In October, Patel was summoned before the grand jury in the case to testify about what he knows about Trump's improper removal of documents from the White House after he left office, including how the files got to Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, how Trump and his team responded to requests and court orders for their return, and Trump's and Patel's unsubstantiated claim that before leaving office Trump declassified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.


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