Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 31, 2023

Two more Memphis officers are relieved of duty over Tyre Nichols' death, Biden plans to end COVID emergency declarations in May, and more


2 more Memphis officers relieved of duty over Tyre Nichols' death

The Memphis, Tennessee, Police Department announced Monday that the number of officers relieved of duty had risen to seven in connection with the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black motorist who died three days after several officers, also Black, beat him during a traffic stop. Five fired officers have been charged with second-degree murder and other crimes. A police spokesperson told The Commercial Appeal newspaper that another officer, Preston Hemphill, had been placed on leave since the start of an investigation into the Jan. 7 incident. The seventh officer was not immediately identified. The Memphis Fire Department said Monday it fired three employees for failing to do an "adequate patient assessment" on Nichols.


Biden to end COVID national emergencies in May

President Biden on Monday informed Congress that he would end the coronavirus national and public health emergency declarations when they expire in May. The move comes three years after then-President Donald Trump's administration first declared the public health emergency. The change signaled that federal officials believe the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted into a more manageable, less deadly phase. The pandemic has killed more than 1.1 million Americans. About 500 deaths are still blamed on the virus every day in the United States, about twice the daily toll of a bad flu season. House Republicans are planning a vote proposing to halt the emergencies immediately, but the White House said an abrupt end would "create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health-care system."


Prosecutor starts presenting grand jury evidence on Trump's Stormy Daniels hush money

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg started presenting evidence Monday to a grand jury regarding former President Donald Trump's role in paying alleged hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels, multiple news outlets reported Monday. Daniels said during Trump's 2016 presidential campaign that she had an affair with him in 2006. Michael Cohen, then Trump's personal lawyer and fixer, paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal charges related to the arrangement. Trump has denied ordering the payoff or having an affair with Daniels. Bragg is reviving the case, started by his predecessor, after delaying it to focus on potential crimes tied to the valuation of corporate assets by Trump's company.


24 Senate Republicans sign letter opposing raising debt limit without cuts

Twenty-four Senate Republicans, nearly half the GOP conference, has signed a letter expressing "outright opposition" to any effort to raise the debt limit that isn't linked to spending cuts. The letter, led by conservative Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Budd (R-N.C.), said any deal must include "real structural spending reform that reduces deficit spending and brings fiscal sanity back to Washington." House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says he is meeting with President Biden on Wednesday to discuss the debt limit. Ben Harris, the Treasury Department's assistant secretary for economic policy, warned that "just the threat that the U.S. government might fail to meet its obligations may cause severe harm to the economy."


Death toll in Pakistan suicide bombing rises to at least 90

A suicide bombing killed at least 90 people, mostly police officers, at a crowded mosque in Peshawar in Northwest Pakistan on Monday. At least 170 others were wounded in the attack, which occurred when at least 260 people were in the mosque inside a fortified "Red Zone" compound that houses police and counter-terrorism offices. Authorities said the bomber appeared to have detonated his explosives in the first row of the prayer hall. They did not know how he got into the area, which is protected with a series of checkpoints. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing. Islamist militants are active in the area, and have launched other attacks targeting police.


Comer calls for reform in oversight of classified documents

House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) said Monday that he planned to work with the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), to come up with a proposal to reform the handling of classified documents in the wake of the discoveries of secret materials at the homes of former President Donald Trump, President Biden, and former Vice President Mike Pence. "We have to reform the way that documents are boxed up when they leave the president and vice president's office," Comer said Monday at an event at the National Press Club, citing the need for congressional action to revamp requirements for handling the material. "Somebody needs to oversee all the documents that are going into boxes to make sure they're not classified."


U.S. near deal on expanded access to Philippines bases

The U.S. military is close to securing expanded access to strategically important military bases in the Philippines as Washington seeks to strengthen alliances in Asia to deter China, The Washington Post reported Monday, citing U.S. and Philippine officials. The expansion includes increased access to two bases on the northern island of Luzon, which would enhance U.S. forces' ability to launch operations in response to any future conflict in Taiwan or the South China Sea, according to the Post. The bases also would help with rapid reactions to natural disasters. A Philippine defense official confirmed that a deal had "more or less" been settled. The deal is expected to be formalized when Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets in Manila with his counterpart as soon as this week.


'Laverne & Shirley' star Cindy Williams dies at 75

Actress Cindy Williams, who starred as Shirley Feeney in the classic sitcom Laverne & Shirley, died Wednesday in Los Angeles following a brief illness, her family said Monday. She was 75. Williams, who grew up in Van Nuys, California, studied at the Actors Studio West alongside Sally Field and Robert De Niro. She worked in theater before transitioning to movies and television, starring in American Graffiti and The Conversation, and lost the Star Wars role of Princess Leia to Carrie Fisher. While working on a prospective TV spoof with her friend Penny Marshall, Marshall's brother, Garry, asked them to guest star on his series Happy Days. This led to the spinoff Laverne & Shirley, which ran from 1976 to 1983.


Trump sues Bob Woodward over interview recordings' release

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Monday filed a lawsuit against Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward and the publisher of his book, Rage, for releasing recordings of Woodward's 2019 and 2020 interviews with Trump. The suit against Woodward, publisher Simon & Schuster, and the publisher's parent company, Paramount Global, argues that the former president never agreed to allow the recordings to be made public, saying they were "for the sole purpose of a book," with no request to include the tapes in an audiobook. The lawsuit accuses Woodward and the publisher of unfairly profiting from the audio, and requests $50 million in damages, based on the assumption of two million audiobook sales at $24.99 per download.


Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull dies at 84

Legendary hockey player Bobby Hull, whose showmanship made him one of the most popular hockey stars ever, has died, his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, announced Monday. He was 84. Hull, a Hall of Fame winger and 12-time All-Star, was known during his playing years as the Golden Jet for his speed and blond air. He had one of the most devastating slapshots in the NHL, once reportedly clocked at 118 miles per hour. Hull teamed with Stan Mikita to help the Blackhawks win the 1961 Stanley Cup, snapping a 23-year streak without a title. He played 15 seasons for Chicago, scoring 604 goals to become the team's career leader. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called Hull "a true superstar with a gregarious personality."


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