Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 13, 2022

Bahamian officials arrest FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, Raffensperger receives subpoena in special counsel's Trump investigation, and more

1

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried arrested in the Bahamas

Bahamian authorities on Monday arrested Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX. The move came after U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges including wire fraud, securities fraud, fraud conspiracy, and money laundering, The New York Times reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The government of the Bahamas, where Bankman-Fried and his company were based, said the arrest came in anticipation of an expected U.S. request to extradite the disgraced executive. Bankman-Fried had been set to testify before the House Financial Services Committee about the sudden implosion of FTX, once the world's second largest crypto firm, which caused a run on deposits that exposed an $8 billion shortfall in its accounts.

2

Raffensperger subpoenaed in special counsel's Trump investigation

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, election officials for at least one Atlanta-area county, and those of Nevada's most populous county have received subpoenas for testimony in Special Counsel Jack Smith's investigation into former President Donald Trump's effort to overturn his loss to President Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Trump's push to gain electoral votes by challenging state results focused heavily on Georgia. Trump pressured Raffensperger in a Jan. 2 phone call to "find" thousands of votes he needed to win the state. Smith, appointed last month to oversee DOJ's Mar-a-Lago investigation and parts of Trump's efforts to retain power, is seeking "any and all communications" from June through January 2020 "to, from, or involving" Trump, his campaign, lawyers, and aides, according to The Associated Press.

3

Russia unleashes more strikes in Ukraine as G7 promises Kyiv aid

Russia continued to hammer eastern and southern Ukraine with missile, artillery, and drone strikes on Monday, Ukraine's military leadership said. The intensifying attacks came as the Group of Seven global economic powers vowed to "meet Ukraine's urgent requirements" to increase its military capabilities and air defenses to fight off Russia's attacks. The promise came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to G7 leaders in a virtual meeting to provide modern tanks and artillery, as well as longer-range missiles, to push back Russian forces. Separately, European Union foreign ministers agreed to add $2.1 billion to a fund intended to strengthen Ukraine's military.

4

Germany vows to tighten gun laws after foiled coup plot

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in an interview with German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that German authorities would work to "further tighten gun laws" following an alleged coup plot by a far-right group that was foiled last week. Faeser said in the interview, published Sunday, that the suspects in the case "are not harmless crazy people but suspected terrorists who are now in custody." Police last Wednesday arrested 25 people suspected of participating in a plot to overthrow the government that involved a "terrorist organization" willing to resort to violence to topple the government. The alleged plotters included members of the extremist Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich) movement, which doesn't recognize the German state.

5

Winter storm threatens central U.S. with blizzard conditions

As many as 11 million people braced for a massive winter storm as officials announced weather advisories that extended from California to Wisconsin on Monday. The storm had already blanked parts of the Sierra Nevada with up to four feet of snow, and was headed into the Rockies and northern Plains, threatening to hit with blizzard conditions. Parts of the Rockies were expected to get up to a foot of snow and winds gusting to 50 miles per hour. Parts of southwest South Dakota and northwest Nebraska could get two feet of snow through Wednesday. "This developing storm system will lead to numerous, widespread, and impactful weather hazards in the heart of the country this week," the National Weather Service said Monday.

6

El Paso struggles to handle biggest mass border crossing in years

U.S. officials rushed to process 800 to 1,000 migrants, most of them from Nicaragua, who crossed into the United States at El Paso, Texas, from Mexico as part of a caravan on Sunday. It was one of the biggest single crossings along the West Texas border in years. "A very large number of people arrived — a huge, huge number," said Ruben Garcia, the director of the nonprofit Annunciation House, which provides shelter to asylum seekers who have been processed and released by U.S. authorities. The number of people attempting to cross from Mexico has increased in the region around El Paso in recent months. Federal agents have recorded 2.4 million encounters along the southern border in a 12-month period, with more around El Paso than any other section of the U.S.-Mexico border.

7

Judge officially dismisses Trump's Mar-a-Lago lawsuit

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon on Monday dismissed former President Donald Trump's lawsuit challenging the Justice Department's access to documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida. The move by Cannon, a Trump appointee, formally ended the case four days after Trump declined to appeal a higher-court ruling ending a review of the documents by an outside "special master" Cannon had appointed at Trump's request. Cannon signed a one-page order dismissing the case, citing lack of jurisdiction. The Mar-a-Lago raid uncovered more than 100 documents marked classified, and Trump was trying to block access in a criminal inquiry into his handling of classified material. The end of the case clears the path for investigators to examine all documents seized in the Mar-a-Lago search.

8

NYC to dedicate gate to exonerated Central Park Five 

More than 30 years after being imprisoned for a violent crime they didn't commit, a group of five Black and Latino men will have a gate in Central Park named in their honor, The New York Times reported Monday. The gate, which will be known as the "Gate of the Exonerated," will pay tribute to the five men who were convicted of assaulting and raping a white woman in the park in 1989. They would eventually become known as the Central Park Five, and their trials captivated both New York City and the nation. The five men received sentences ranging from five to 15 years. Following a series of unsuccessful appeals to their convictions, the men were finally exonerated in 2002 after a serial rapist confessed to the crime.

9

Putin to skip annual year-end press conference for 1st time in years

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not hold his usual year-end news conference for the first time in at least a decade, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Monday. He gave no reason but noted that Putin "regularly speaks to the press." Putin's wide-ranging, often festive December press conference, which typically lasts four hours or longer, has offered a rare chance for foreign reporters outside the Kremlin pool to question him — "if they are called on," according to The New York Times. The Kremlin has tried to portray life in Russia as unaffected by the country's invasion of Ukraine, and "Kremlin officials are almost certainly extremely sensitive about the possibility" of unwanted questions about the war, Britain's Defense Ministry tweeted early Tuesday.

10

Twitter disbands its Trust and Safety Council

Elon Musk's Twitter on Monday dissolved its volunteer Trust and Safety Council, an advisory group of civil, human rights, and other organizations. The council was created in 2016 to address concerns about hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, and other safety issues. Council members received the news in an email canceling a scheduled Monday night meeting with Twitter representatives. The email said Twitter was re-evaluating how to get outside advice as it "moves into a new phase," and "decided that the Trust and Safety Council is not the best structure to do this." The change came after three council members last week resigned saying that "contrary to claims by Elon Musk, the safety and wellbeing of Twitter's users are on the decline."

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