10 things you need to know today: March 29, 2023
A judge rules Mike Pence must testify in Trump Jan. 6 inquiry, dozens die in a fire at a Mexico migrant center near the U.S. border, and more
Judge rules Pence must testify in Trump investigation
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled Tuesday that former Vice President Mike Pence must testify to prosecutors investigating former President Donald Trump's attempts to reverse his 2020 election loss to President Biden, The Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Boasberg said Pence can decline to answer questions about his role overseeing Congress' certification of the election results on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol trying to block the proceedings. Special counsel Jack Smith subpoenaed Pence as part of his ongoing investigation into whether any efforts to overturn the election were criminal. Pence's lawyers had argued the Constitution shielded him from testifying. Trump claimed Pence's testimony was protected by executive privilege.
Dozens die in fire at Mexico migrant center near U.S. border
A fire erupted late Monday at a migrant detention center in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, near the United States border, killing at least 40 people. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday that detained migrants started the blaze by setting their mattresses on fire in protest after hearing rumors they were to be deported. One Mexican official said the detainees, crammed into an overcrowded cell without water, were protesting harsh conditions. Surveillance video showed the flames spread quickly in the padlocked cell. Later, dozens of migrants gathered outside the smoldering center demanding information. "They were left to die!" one shouted. Most of the victims were from Central America or Venezuela, stranded in Juarez while trying to reach the U.S.
Nashville school shooter stockpiled guns before attack
The 28-year-old identified as the school shooter who killed three children and three adults at a private Christian school in Nashville was under a doctor's care for an emotional disorder and had recently legally purchased seven guns, including the three used in the shooting, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Tuesday. The parents of Audrey Hale, who was killed by police, felt Hale "should not own weapons," but Hale hid them in the house, Drake said. A former middle school basketball teammate said Hale texted her from the school's parking lot that "I'm planning to die today ... You'll probably hear about me on the news." The friend called a suicide hotline at 10:08 a.m. Hale blasted into the school at 10:11.
Biden urges Congress to ban assault weapons
President Biden on Tuesday urged Congress to take action on gun safety after the shooting that left three children and three adults dead at The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, conceding he is powerless to act alone. "I have gone the full extent of my executive authority to do, on my own, anything about guns," Biden said when asked what he could do to stop mass shootings. "The Congress has to act," Biden told reporters. "The majority of the American people think having assault weapons is bizarre; it's a crazy idea. They're against that. And so, I think the Congress should be passing the assault weapons ban."
Myanmar junta dissolves Suu Kyi's political party
Myanmar's military-appointed election commission on Tuesday dissolved the political party led by ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy was among 40 parties that failed to register ahead of a Tuesday deadline. The party has denounced elections promised by the junta, calling them a sham because the country's ruling military leaders have eliminated press freedoms and jailed Suu Kyi and leaders of her party, which won 2020 elections in a landslide. The army blocked the elected lawmakers from taking office and seized power. Suu Kyi, a 77-year-old 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is serving 33 years in prison on charges widely seen as fabricated.
Report: Ginni Thomas' conservative group raked in anonymous donations
A conservative group led Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, raised nearly $600,000 in anonymous donations to fight liberal causes, The Washington Post reported Tuesday after an extensive investigation. In an arrangement known as a "fiscal sponsorship," the group, Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty, collected the money through a conservative Washington think tank, hiding its activities from public view, the Post reported. The revelation could add to pressure on the Supreme Court to adopt a code of ethics. Ginni Thomas' activism has already attracted scrutiny, particularly when she pressed then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to fight to overturn President Donald Trump's 2020 loss after the election but before he left office.
Report: No Trump grand jury vote on charges this week
The New York grand jury hearing evidence about hush-money payments made to porn actress Stormy Daniels on behalf of former President Donald Trump is not expected to vote on possible criminal charges this week, NBC News reported Tuesday, citing three sources familiar with the matter. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg convened a grand jury in January to hear testimony on the $130,000 payment to Daniels during Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Daniels said she had an affair with Trump years earlier, which he denied. The investigation has reportedly focused on whether Trump falsified business records to cover up his reimbursement of his now-estranged lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who says he arranged to pay Daniels on Trump's behalf.
Prosecutors charge Bankman-Fried in alleged China bribery scheme
Prosecutors have charged FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried with steering $40 million in bribes to Chinese officials to unfreeze assets linked to his cryptocurrency business, according to a newly rewritten indictment unsealed Tuesday. The indictment, which was returned Monday, brings the number of charges against Bankman-Fried to 13. He was arrested in the Bahamas, where his operations were based, in December and was soon extradited to the United States to face trial. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams has repeatedly said the investigation into FTX is ongoing. The indictment said another person who allegedly participated in the bribery conspiracy "will be arrested" in the Southern District of New York. Bankman-Fried is staying at his parents' Palo Alto, California, home on a $250 million personal recognizance bond.
Court reinstates murder conviction of Serial subject Adnan Syed
A Maryland appeals court on Tuesday reinstated the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, returning a case made famous in the Serial podcast to a Baltimore court. The Appellate Court of Maryland ruled in a split decision that the September hearing that cleared Syed, 23 years after he was convicted of killing former girlfriend Hae Min Lee, was done improperly because the judge didn't give Lee's brother, Young Lee, enough notice to allow him to attend. Judges Gregory Wells and Kathryn G. Graeff found that the situation called for taking the rare step of reinstating the conviction, so a new hearing can be held giving Young Lee the option of attending. Syed's lawyer, Erica Suter, said she doesn't expect him to be returned to prison.
Alibaba to break up into 6 units
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding announced Tuesday that it plans to split into six independently run units that would raise money and seek IPOs separately. The news of the breakup of Alibaba's $220 billion empire surprised markets, and sent the company's stock shares soaring 16 percent in Hong Kong, adding $30 billion to its market value. The shakeup at one of China's biggest companies, which was valued at more than $800 billion at its peak, comes as investors grow weary of a years-long regulatory crackdown by a Chinese government determined to curb the power of Big Tech. Alibaba's once-outspoken founder, Jack Ma, stepped back from a leadership role in 2019 and has kept a low profile and stayed overseas until recently.