10 things you need to know today: January 27, 2023
Five fired Memphis police officers charged with murder in Tyre Nichols' death, National Archives asks ex-presidents to look for classified documents, and more
5 fired Memphis police officers face murder charges in Tyre Nichols' death
Five fired Memphis Police officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith — were charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping, and other offenses on Thursday for the death of Tyre Nichols, who died earlier this month three days after a traffic stop that ended in what police described as a "confrontation." Nichols — who was Black, as are the ex-officers — "suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating," according to preliminary findings of an autopsy commissioned by his family. Authorities called for calm ahead of the planned Friday release of police body-camera video. David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said the recordings are "absolutely appalling. This was wrong, this was criminal."
National Archives asks former presidents, vice presidents to check for classified records
The National Archives sent a letter to representatives of former presidents and vice presidents asking them to review personal records to see if they have any classified documents. The request came after the recent discoveries of papers with classified markings by representatives of President Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence. The FBI last year seized classified documents at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida. Freddy Ford, chief of staff to former President George W. Bush, told the Archives that Bush aides "remain confident" they have no classified material. Spokespeople for former Presidents Trump, Obama, and Clinton, and former Vice Presidents Pence, Dick Cheney, Al Gore, and Dan Quayle did not immediately comment.
Economy grew faster than expected despite recession fears
The U.S. economy grew at a faster-than-expected 2.9 percent annualized pace in the fourth quarter of 2022, down from 3.2 percent the previous quarter, according to Commerce Department data released Thursday. For the full year, gross domestic product grew 2.1 percent. The data showed weakening demand among consumers and other red flags indicating ongoing risk of a recession later this year, according to Bloomberg. But the data also suggested the Federal Reserve's aggressive interest rates were slowing the economy as intended in the fight against high inflation. "The numbers are good," said Robert Frick, chief economist at Navy Federal Credit Union. "We shouldn't expect them to be fantastic, because the economy is slowing down ... but they were still very positive."
Biden spars with Republicans over the economy, debt limit
President Biden on Thursday accused House Republicans of trying to cut retirement benefits for older Americans, and holding the nation's finances hostage by demanding spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit to avert an economic catastrophe. "I will not let anyone use the full faith and credit of the United States as a bargaining chip," Biden told union members in Springfield, Virginia. Republicans rejected Biden's allegations. "Their go-to position ... is to fearmonger senior citizens about essential benefits being stripped from them. No one in this side of the aisle is talking about that," said Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), a member of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, which has called for cutting government spending sharply.
California Rep. Adam Schiff launches bid to replace Dianne Feinstein in Senate
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that he is running for fellow Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein's seat in the 2024 election. Progressive Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) has already entered the race to replace the 89-year-old Feinstein, who hasn't said yet whether she will seek re-election. Schiff's announcement came two days after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), attacking Schiff's integrity, blocked him from taking his spot on the House Intelligence Committee in the new Congress. "The fight for our democracy and working families is part of the same struggle," Schiff said in a statement. "Because if our democracy isn't delivering for Americans, they'll look for alternatives, like a dangerous demagogue who promises that he alone can fix it."
Suspect convicted in deadly N.Y. bike-path terrorist attack
A federal jury in Manhattan on Thursday found a man guilty of driving a truck down a Hudson River bike path in 2017 and killing eight people. Authorities have called the attack the deadliest terrorist act in New York City since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The suspect, 34-year-old Uzbek native Sayfullo Saipov, said after the attack that he had been inspired by Islamic State videos he watched on his phone. The truck sent bicycle riders flying and left a trail of mangled bikes and bodies. Six of the people killed were tourists, one from Belgium and five from Argentina, The New York Times reported. A 23-year-old Manhattan software engineer and a 32-year-old financial worker from New Jersey also were killed.
FDA proposes easing ban on blood donations by gay, bisexual men
The Food and Drug Administration plans to propose relaxing restrictions to let gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships donate blood without requiring them to abstain from sex, ending a policy imposed early in the AIDS crisis, The Washington Post reported Thursday. The FDA is expected to release the proposal within days and adopt it after a public comment period. Blood banks, the American Medical Association, and LGBT rights organizations pushed for the change, calling the old rule homophobic, outdated, and counterproductive, as it prevented many people from safely donating blood. The new rule focuses on screening out people with an elevated risk of contracting and transmitting HIV based on sexual behaviors, regardless of gender, an official told the Post.
U.S. raid kills top ISIS leader in Somalia
U.S. Special Operations commandos killed a senior Islamic State leader and 10 of the terrorist group's operatives in northern Somalia on Thursday, according to U.S. officials. The leader, Bilal al-Sudani, was the raid's target. Al-Sudani was "responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and funding the group's operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan," Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement. U.S. officials said no civilians were killed in the helicopter raid, which President Biden ordered on the recommendation of Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Georgia governor declares state of emergency over Atlanta 'Cop City' protests
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) declared a two-week state of emergency on Thursday, authorizing the use of up to 1,000 National Guard troops to help contain violent protests in Atlanta against a police training facility known as "Cop City." Protesters oppose the construction of the Atlantic Public Safety Center in Dekalb County's South River Forest. An environmental protester was fatally shot last week during a raid to clear a protest camp. Police say the activist, 26-year-old Manuel "Tortuguita" Teran, shot first, wounding a state trooper. Activists dispute the police version of what happened, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations says the officers involved were not wearing body cameras. In his Wednesday State of the State address, Kemp said the protesters were "out-of-state rioters."
California Bar calls for disbarment of Trump lawyer John Eastman
The State Bar of California on Thursday filed disciplinary charges seeking the disbarment of attorney John Eastman for his role in then-President Donald Trump's effort to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Biden. Eastman was behind memos for Trump's campaign encouraging Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of the 2020 election results, and urging key states to declare Trump the winner even though he lost. The State Bar accuses Eastman of continuing to promote the lie that the election was stolen after it was clear there was no evidence that fraud could have tipped the election. The State Bar also said Eastman's speech at a Jan. 6, 2021, rally "contributed to provoking a crowd to assault and breach the Capitol."