10 things you need to know today: May 16, 2023
Special counsel John Durham criticizes the FBI in his final report on the Trump-Russia inquiry, a man attacks a Democratic congressman's staff with a baseball bat, and more
Durham criticizes FBI in final Trump-Russia investigation review
Special counsel John Durham on Monday issued his report after a four-year investigation into the FBI's inquiry into the 2016 Trump campaign. He sharply criticized the agency for rushing to look into "raw, unanlyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence," but filed no new charges. Then-President Donald Trump's attorney general, William Barr, appointed Durham. Trump predicted he would uncover the "crime of the century." But prosecutors in the investigation only got one guilty plea from a little-known FBI employee, and lost the only two criminal cases they took to trial. Still, Durham accused the FBI of falling short of its standards, and said agents dismissed "information that ran counter to the narrative of a Trump/Russia collusive relationship."
Man wielding baseball bat attacks Democratic congressman's Virginia office
A man armed with a baseball bat attacked two staffers in the Fairfax, Virginia, district office of Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) on Monday. The injured staffers were taken to a hospital for treatment. Police identified the suspect as Xuan Kha Tran Pham, 49, a constituent in Connolly's district. The attacker reportedly shattered glass and broke computers in the office. Police arrived five minutes after the 911 call and found the staff members conscious but "scared, they were hiding," said Sgt. Lisa Gardner, a spokesperson for the Fairfax City Police. "The thought that someone would take advantage of my staff's accessibility to commit an act of violence is unconscionable and devastating," Connolly said. The attack came amid rising threats against members of Congress.
U.K. leader promises Ukraine more missiles, attack drones during Zelensky visit
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday promised to supply Ukraine with more missiles and attack drones as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise visit to the United Kingdom. Zelenskyy went to the U.K. after a European tour that included stops in Italy, German, and France, where leaders promised billions of dollars in additional aid to help Kyiv fight invading Russian forces. His trip came as Ukrainian forces prepared a long-anticipated counteroffensive that Zelenskyy said would drive Russian forces out of occupied parts of the country. Zelenskyy tweeted that he was "very pleased" with the fruits of his trip.
Ukraine shoots down 'exceptional' Russian missile barrage
Russia fired an air strike at Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, that was "exceptional in its density" early Tuesday, but Ukraine said it thwarted the attack. Ukraine said it shot down all 18 of the missiles, including six hypersonic Kinzhal missiles. Kinzhals are ballistic missiles that travel at up to 10 times the speed of sound, and Moscow has touted them as unstoppable super weapons. If confirmed, this would be the first time Ukraine has blocked an entire barrage of hypersonic missiles, in a sign that newly arrived Western weapons have boosted its air defenses. "It's such a relief to know Kyiv is under such a strong defense right now," one resident said. The missiles rained down debris when they were destroyed in the sky, injuring three people, city officials said.
3 killed in New Mexico mass shooting
A young man firing an "AR-style rifle" and two other guns walked through a neighborhood in Farmington, New Mexico, shooting at cars and houses on Monday, killing three people and wounding nine others, local police said. Schools closed across the city of 50,000 in northwestern New Mexico in a "preventative lockdown" after the gunfire broke out. Farmington police said on Facebook that officers "confronted and killed" the 18-year-old suspect. Two officers were injured and taken to a hospital in stable condition. The shooting occurred near Brookside Park. Farmington, near the Four Corners region, serves as a modern-day trading post to the nearby Navajo Nation, and as a bedroom community for oil and natural gas industry operations in the region.
DeSantis signs bills restricting diversity programs at public colleges
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a likely candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, signed three controversial bills on Monday that could dramatically change the state's colleges and public universities. The measures defund diversity and inclusion programs at public colleges, and limit how race can be discussed in general education classes students need to get their degrees. The bills are part of a broader attack on so-called woke ideology that DeSantis has been pushing. DeSantis said diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs increase racial division. "This bill says the whole experiment with DEI is coming to an end in the state of Florida," he said. Higher education experts accused the state of violating academic freedom.
Cambodia's main opposition party disqualified from July elections
Cambodian election authorities on Monday disqualified the main opposition party from July elections, eliminating the only credible challenger to the country's long-serving prime minister, Hun Sen. Electoral officials said the Candlelight Party failed to properly fill out the necessary documents. The party's leaders had warned for weeks that the government was blocking rivals with red tape. In 2018, the ruling Cambodian People's Party won every seat in the 125-seat National Assembly after courts dissolved the main opposition alliance. That alliance gave birth to the Candlelight Party, which won just 22 percent of the ballots in local elections last year but still represented the government's most significant rival. The opposition vowed to appeal its disqualification.
Ecuadorian lawmakers approve impeachment trial of President Guillermo Lasso
Lawmakers in Ecuador on Tuesday voted to open an impeachment trial against President Guillermo Lasso, one of the last remaining conservative heads of state in South America. Lasso is accused of embezzlement. A legislative oversight commission recommended against charging Lasso, and he has denied any wrongdoing. But 88 members of the 137-member National Assembly, which is controlled by the opposition, voted to proceed, although that is four votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to impeach Lasso. He is the first president to face impeachment proceedings since the country restored democracy in 1979, although lawmakers ousted then-President Abdala Bucaram in 1997 without a trial. Lasso's impeachment trial is planned for May 20.
U.S. Virgin Islands subpoenas Elon Musk in Epstein lawsuit
The U.S. Virgin Islands has subpoenaed Tesla CEO Elon Musk, demanding documents for its lawsuit claiming that JPMorgan Chase benefited from and enabled the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's alleged sex trafficking, according to a Monday filing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The filing says Epstein might have referred Musk, who bought Twitter last year, to JPMorgan. The subpoena called for Musk to hand over all communication he had with Epstein, and all documents mentioning Epstein's involvement in procuring girls or women for paid sex or statutory rape. The petition doesn't implicate Musk in wrongdoing.
Migrant crossings fell sharply in days after Title 42 expired
The number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border fell dramatically over the weekend following the expiration of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy that had allowed border officials to turn away asylum seekers to fight the spread of COVID-19, Biden administration officials said Monday. The administration surged personnel and resources to the southern border before Title 42 ended last Thursday to brace for an anticipated spike in border crossings, but border officials had fewer than 5,000 encounters with people crossing the border daily over the weekend, down from more than 10,000 a day last week, Blas Nuñez-Neto, a lead Department of Homeland Security official, said. But he warned not to draw early conclusions, as smugglers would continue spreading disinformation to encourage people to cross.