10 things you need to know today: March 9, 2023
The Justice Department finds a pattern of discriminatory policing in Louisville, Mitch McConnell is hospitalized after a fall at a D.C. hotel, and more
DOJ finds pattern of discriminatory policing in Louisville
The Justice Department has concluded that Louisville, Kentucky, police engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional, discriminatory policing that violated the rights of people in the Black community, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday. DOJ investigated Louisville police after the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, a young Black medical technician, during a botched raid at her apartment under a no-knock warrant in a case involving someone who didn't live there. DOJ uncovered evidence of excessive force and searches based on invalid warrants. "This conduct is unacceptable," Garland said. "It erodes the community trust necessary for effective policing and it is an affront to the vast majority of officers who put their lives on the line every day to serve Louisville with honor."
Mitch McConnell hospitalized after fall
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tripped and fell at a private dinner at a Washington, D.C., hotel and was taken to a local hospital for treatment, his spokesperson said early Thursday. No further details on his condition were immediately available. In August 2019, when he was majority leader, McConnell tripped, fell, and fractured his shoulder on the patio of his home in Kentucky. After surgery to repair the fracture, McConnell worked from home for several weeks. McConnell, 81, became the longest-serving Senate leader in U.S. history when the new Congress convened in January, breaking the previous record of 16 years.
Biden to release budget proposal clashing with GOP priorities
President Biden on Thursday will release an annual budget proposal White House officials say would save hundreds of billions of dollars by lowering drug prices and cutting unnecessary spending, while hiking some taxes on businesses. Administration officials said the plan would reduce federal budget deficits by nearly $3 trillion over a decade. But the spending blueprint has "no chance of driving tax or spending decisions in Congress this year," according to The New York Times, because it clashes with priorities of Republicans, who now control the House. Republicans are expected to counter this spring with a budget proposal that would slash spending on health care, food assistance, housing programs, and foreign aid.
Russia hits Ukraine with 1st big missile barrage in 3 weeks
Russia conducted its first major wave of missile attacks in Ukraine in three weeks early Thursday, killing at least six civilians. The strikes cut power in some areas, and knocked a nuclear power plant off the electricity grid. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the "massive rocket attack" hit critical infrastructure and residential buildings in 10 regions. Zelensky said the strikes occurred while people slept. "The occupiers can only terrorize civilians," he said in an online statement. Russia has been targeting Ukraine's power grid since October. The attacks became less frequent recently. U.S. intelligence agencies believe Moscow is running low on ammunition and suffering heavy casualties, leaving it unlikely to seize more territory this year.
House holds 1st COVID-origins hearing with lab-leak theory in focus
House Republicans on Wednesday led their first hearing on the origins of the coronavirus, focusing on the theory that the pandemic started with a leak from a Chinese lab. "There is no smoking gun proving a lab origin hypothesis, but the growing body of circumstantial evidence suggests a gun that, at the very least, is warm to the touch," said Atlantic Council senior fellow and former State Department official Jamie Metzl, one of three witnesses Republicans invited. Dr. Robert R. Redfield, who served as the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under then-President Donald Trump, said the first COVID-19 outbreak "more likely was a result of an accidental lab leak than the result of a natural spillover event."
DOJ reviews Memphis police tactics after Tyre Nichols' death
The Justice Department confirmed Wednesday that it had started a review of the use-of-force and de-escalation policies used by Memphis police in the wake of the death of Black motorist Tyre Nichols, who died after he was beaten by officers during a traffic stop. DOJ also has launched a separate review of specialized police units like the one involved in the Nichols case that are deployed around the nation. The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, will release a public report after its review. "In the wake of Tyre Nichols' tragic death, the Justice Department has heard from police chiefs across the country who are assessing the use of specialized units" and their "oversight and accountability," Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement.
Georgian protesters clash with police over foreign-agents legislation
Protesters clashed with police in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, on Wednesday after parliament backed a controversial draft law requiring organizations receiving more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as "foreign agents." Critics say the legislation marks an authoritarian shift that will lead to restrict press freedom, likening it to a law Russia has used to crack down on dissent. On Tuesday night, protesters threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at police. Wednesday's demonstrations were less violent, but riot police still used water cannons and pepper spray to disperse crowds outside the parliament building. Police arrested 66 people Tuesday. The government said 50 police officers were injured.
GOP operative comes forward as CPAC leader Matt Schlapp's accuser in groping lawsuit
Longtime Republican operative Carlton Huffman, 39, revealed Wednesday that he was the man who has accused Matt Schlapp, the influential leader of the Conservative Political Action Conference, of sexual misconduct. Huffman, who has worked on several GOP campaigns, came forward after a judge said he had to use his real name in his lawsuit if it is to move forward. Huffman, who lives in North Carolina, said he would proceed with his lawsuit requesting $9.4 million in damages. He accuses Schlapp of defamation and sexual battery. "I'm not going to drop this," Huffman told The Washington Post. "Matt Schlapp did what he did and he needs to be held accountable." Schlapp denies Huffman's allegation that he groped his crotch in Atlanta while campaigning for unsuccessful Senate candidate Herschel Walker.
Pentagon opposes Biden administration plan to share intelligence on Russian atrocities
The Pentagon is trying to keep the Biden administration from sharing intelligence reports on Russian atrocities in Ukraine with the International Criminal Court in the Hague, The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing current and former officials briefed on the situation. The Defense Department doesn't want to set a precedent that could make it easier for Americans to be prosecuted in the court. Intelligence agencies, the State Department, and the Justice Department support handing over the information. The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, has been investigating Russia's actions in Ukraine for a year, and civilian officials believe intelligence gathered on such matters as Russian decisions to target civilian infrastructure could be useful in the inquiry.
Fed chair tells House lawmakers rate hikes depend on economic data
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told House lawmakers in his second day of congressional testimony that the size of the central bank's next interest rate hike to fight inflation would depend on the latest economic data. Powell said Fed leaders were keeping an open mind heading into their next meeting this month. On Tuesday, he told a Senate committee that it might be necessary for the Fed to raise rates higher and longer than previously anticipated, given recent data showing that a string of aggressive increases to borrowing costs hadn't slowed the economy as much as hoped. "I stress that no decision has been made on this," Powell told the House Financial Services Committee.