10 things you need to know today: April 27, 2023
House Republicans pass bill to raise the debt ceiling, writer E. Jean Carroll testifies that "Trump raped me" in defamation trial, and more
House Republicans pass debt ceiling bill
House Republicans narrowly passed a bill on Wednesday that would raise the debt ceiling while cutting federal spending and rolling back major parts of President Biden's domestic agenda. Congress must raise the borrowing limit soon to keep the U.S. Treasury from defaulting on its bills, which would be catastrophic for the economy. The House legislation, which passed 217-215, would raise the debt ceiling and repeal Biden's programs to combat climate change and forgive some student debt. "We've done our job," House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, adding that Biden can "no longer ignore" negotiations with House Republicans. The White House repeated Biden's insistence that Congress must raise the debt ceiling without conditions, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused Republicans of "hostage-taking."
E. Jean Carroll testifies that Trump raped her
Former Elle advice columnist E. Jean Carroll testified Wednesday in the trial of her defamation and battery lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, saying he raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in the mid-1990s after asking her advice on buying a present. She said they had a conversation that was "very joshing" until Trump led her into a dressing room, supposedly to try on lingerie. He pushed her in, locked the door, and then, Carroll said, "Donald Trump raped me." Carroll filed her defamation suit after Trump said in a 2022 Truth Social post her claims were "a Hoax and a lie," adding, "This woman is not my type!" On Wednesday, he posted again, calling Carroll's story a "made-up SCAM."
Disney sues DeSantis and his hand-picked oversight board
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and his hand-picked oversight board, accusing them of abusing their political power to punish the entertainment company for exercising its right to free speech. Disney sued after the board members DeSantis put on the special-taxing-district board moved to restore power Disney tried to dilute just before the takeover. The lawsuit calls the board's effort the "latest strike" in "a targeted campaign of government retaliation" by DeSantis since Disney spoke out in opposition to Florida Republicans' Parental Rights in Education law, which critics call the "don't say gay" bill. The legislation prohibits lessons about sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools.
U.S., South Korea promise closer cooperation on nuclear response
The United States and South Korea agreed to cooperate on planning a U.S. nuclear response to a potential North Korean attack, President Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said after meeting at the White House. Washington will give South Korea more influence in consultations in exchange for agreeing not to pursue its own nuclear weapons. The U.S. also will send nuclear-armed submarines to South Korea for the first time in decades. Yoon's state visit came after leaked classified documents indicated that the U.S. had intercepted conversations among members of South Korean's national security council concerning U.S. pressure to provide artillery shells to Ukraine despite a South Korean policy against arming military forces engaged in active wars.
Ex-Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson joins 2024 GOP presidential field
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Wednesday formally announced that he is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. "In this campaign for president, I stand alone in terms of my experience, record, and leadership," Hutchinson said in prepared remarks shared with Fox News Digital. "From Congress to DEA to Homeland Security, I have served our country in times of crisis. As governor of Arkansas, we cut taxes and created record surpluses." Hutchinson said at a launch event in his hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas, that his "mettle has been tested." Hutchinson said his record shows he's a "consistent conservative." Hutchinson, who left office in January due to term limits, joins a growing field dominated by former President Donald Trump.
Ukrainian journalist shot and killed by sniper
A suspected Russian sniper shot and killed Ukrainian journalist Bogdan Bitik, who was working as a fixer for Italy's La Repubblica newspaper in Ukraine's Kherson region, the newspaper said Wednesday. The sniper shot and wounded the Italian reporter Bitik was working with, Corrado Zunino. Both were wearing bulletproof vests with "Press" displayed prominently on them. The journalists were targeted as they worked near the Antonivskyi bridge over the Dnipro river. Russian forces destroyed the span as they withdrew from its western side in November, and Ukrainian soldiers have established a stronghold on the eastern bank nearby. Zunino said Ukrainian soldiers had let them through three checkpoints "without problem," then heard a "hiss" and saw Bitik lifeless on the ground.
Judge sentences Bannon associate to 4 years in prison for border-wall fraud
U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in Manhattan on Wednesday sentenced Brian Kolfage, a decorated U.S. Air Force veteran who was an associate of Donald Trump's former strategist Steve Bannon, to 4 1/4 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to helping defraud donors in a campaign to build Trump's promised wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. Torres also sentenced Andrew Badolato, another former Bannon associate, to three years in prison after he, too, pleaded guilty in connection with the misappropriation of money raised for the "We Build the Wall" campaign. "The fraud perpetrated by Mr. Kolfage and Mr. Badolato went well beyond ripping off individual donors," Torres said. "They hurt us all by eroding the public's faith in the political process."
U.K. regulator blocks Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard
Britain's antitrust regulator said Wednesday it was blocking Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard, saying the deal would lead to "reduced innovation and less choice for U.K. gamers over the years to come." Microsoft already has a 60 percent to 70 percent share in cloud gaming globally, and the $69 billion acquisition would make it "even stronger," the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority said. Antitrust regulators in other countries also are trying to disrupt what would be one of the tech industry's biggest deals. The Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. filed a lawsuit in December seeking to thwart Microsoft's takeover of the game maker. A hearing in that case is scheduled for August.
Montana House GOP bars transgender lawmaker Zooey Zephyr for rest of session
The Republican-led Montana House voted Wednesday to bar Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D) from the House floor for the rest of the legislative session. Republicans justified the extraordinary move — it has been nearly half a century since Montana lawmakers took such a disciplinary action, The Associated Press reports — by saying Zephyr, a transgender lawmaker representing Missoula, violated "decorum" rules when she criticized colleagues over a bill to ban gender-affirming hormone treatment or surgery for minors. Zephyr will be allowed to vote remotely and participate in committee meetings for the rest of the session, which ends in May. Protesters supporting Zephyr earlier this week chanted "Let her Speak" during a rally outside the Capitol, displaying a banner reading "Democracy Dies Here."
Pope Francis authorizes women to vote at bishops' meetings
Pope Francis has approved a change giving women the right to vote at the upcoming Synod of Bishops, a periodic meeting of the world's Catholic bishops to make decisions on church policy, the Vatican said Wednesday. The historic move reflects Francis' "hopes to give women greater decision-making responsibilities and laypeople more say in the life of the Catholic Church," according to NPR. Catholic women's groups that have long accused the Vatican of treating women as second-class citizens praised the change. "This is a significant crack in the stained-glass ceiling, and the result of sustained advocacy, activism, and the witness" of Catholic women's groups demanding the right to vote, said Kate McElwee of the Women's Ordination Conference, which advocates letting women become Catholic priests.