Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 7, 2022

Democrat Raphael Warnock beats Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate runoff, the Trump Organization is convicted of tax fraud, and more

1

Warnock beats Walker in Georgia Senate runoff

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker in Georgia's Senate runoff election on Tuesday, becoming the state's first Black candidate to win a full term in the U.S. Senate. "The people have spoken," Warnock said to a crowd of supporters, who broke into a chant of "six more years!" Walker, a former football star backed by former President Donald Trump, conceded, saying, "we put up one heck of a fight." Warnock's narrow victory, roughly 51.4 percent to Walker's 48.6 percent, gave Democrats a true majority with 51 seats in the 100-member Senate, firming up the party's control without the need for the power-sharing agreement in place over the last two years in the evenly divided chamber.

2

Trump Organization found guilty of tax fraud

A Manhattan jury on Tuesday found former President Donald Trump's family real estate business guilty of criminal tax fraud and other financial crimes. The case involved a 15-year scheme to dodge taxes by compensating top executives with luxury apartments and automobiles, private school tuition for their relatives, and other fancy perks. Prosecutors said there was a "culture of fraud and deception" at two Trump Organization entities — Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. The Manhattan district attorney's office got the Trumps' long-serving chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, to plead guilty and testify about the scheme, which he orchestrated. Trump and his eldest sons, who run the company, were not directly implicated. Trump said he was "disappointed with the verdict" and would appeal.

3

Drones hit military sites inside Russia for 2nd day

Drones struck targets inside Russia several hundred miles from its Ukraine border for a second day on Tuesday. Ukraine did not confirm it was responsible for the attacks, keeping quiet as it has after other high-profile attacks on key Russian military sites. Britain's Defense Ministry said Moscow likely saw the strikes as "some of the most strategically significant failures of force protection since its invasion of Ukraine." Russian bloggers with contacts within the country's military were critical of the bases' defenses. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would "take the necessary measures" to improve its ability to defend important military sites.

4

Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner convicted of corruption

A three-judge panel in Argentina on Tuesday found Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner guilty of corruption, and sentenced her to six years in prison. The ruling also imposed a lifetime ban on the polarizing figure from holding office in the South American nation. Kirchner was convicted of funneling millions of dollars in government money to construction magnate Lazaro Baez when she served as president from 2007 to 2015. She was acquitted on charges relating to overpricing and bribes connected to roadwork projects. Kirchner has denied she did anything wrong, calling the prosecution partisan, and the court a "firing squad." Prosecutor Diego Luciani said the case was one of Argentina's "most extraordinary corruption schemes" ever.

5

Hungary holds up billions in EU economic aid to Ukraine

Hungary on Tuesday blocked a European Union proposal to provide Ukraine with $18.9 billion of economic assistance next year. The money was proposed as a key part of the West's promise to help Ukraine cover the costs of providing basic services in 2023. EU finance ministers were trying to push through a loan. Hungary has said it doesn't object to a loan, but argued that it should be provided by individual EU member states, instead of having the EU itself raise the money by issuing common debt in the financial markets. The United States and Ukraine have been pressuring European leaders to step up their economic assistance for Ukraine to provide stability for the country as it fights a Russian invasion.

6

Germany detains 25 people in alleged plot to overthrow the government

German authorities on Wednesday detained 25 people associated with a far-right domestic terrorist group suspected of plotting to overthrow the government. Special Forces detained the suspects, all members or supporters of the Alternative For Germany (AfD) organization, in early morning raids across the country. The people detained included an active member of the Special Forces and several reservists, as well as a former member of a German royal family. Prosecutors said AfD was formed in the last year by people who think "Germany is currently ruled by members of a so-called deep state." Investigators believe the plotters planned to have a small armed group storm the Bundestag lower house of parliament in Berlin.

7

State judge blocks Oregon's new gun law

A federal judge ruled Thursday that Oregon's ban on high-capacity magazines could take effect, but hours later a state circuit judge blocked the new gun law. The law would ban the manufacture, purchase, or sale of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, and would require prospective gun buyers to take a safety course and pass a background check to get a permit for their firearm purchase. It also would close the "Charleston Loophole" in federal law, which allows people to get newly purchased guns after three days if a background check hasn't been completed. Harney County circuit court judge Robert Raschio said the law, Measure 114, would violate the state constitution by leaving people "unable to lawfully purchase a firearm or bear a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition" in Oregon.

8

Jan. 6 committee chair says panel expected to make criminal referrals to DOJ

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the House Jan. 6 committee, said Tuesday that members of the panel had reached a "general agreement" on making criminal referrals to the Justice Department. Thompson said the committee still has to formalize the decision. He didn't say who would be targeted in the referrals. Committee members previously suggested they might send DOJ multiple referrals related to efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Trump's 2020 election loss to President Biden based on evidence they collected in their investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021. The panel voted unanimously to subpoena Trump, but his lawyers sued last month to block the subpoena, calling it a "partisan" attempt "to punish President Trump, and to score political points."

9

Jan. 6 congressional gold medal recipients snub GOP officials

Democratic and Republican lawmakers assembled Tuesday to award four Congressional Gold Medals to law enforcement officials who were present during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack by a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters. The ceremony followed legislation passed more than a year ago to honor representatives of the Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police with Congress' highest form of appreciation. The officers stared down "deadly violence and despicable bigotry" and ensured "that democracy survived on that dark day," outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. As the law enforcement officials walked past congressional leaders to accept their medals, many refused to shake the hands of the top Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

10

China eases toughest 'zero-COVID' restrictions

China announced Wednesday that it was lifting some of the most severe restrictions under its "zero-COVID" policy. The policies had ignited a rare outburst of anti-government protests, with some demonstrators calling for President Xi Jinping to step down. Beijing said people who get infected now can quarantine at home instead of isolating in government facilities if they are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Citizens also no longer have to show negative coronavirus tests for most public venues, and can travel more freely within China. Lockdowns that have damaged the country's economy now will be more narrowly targeted, focusing on buildings or floors instead of entire neighborhoods and towns, and will be lifted after five days with no new infections.

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