Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 26, 2022

Joe Manchin will vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson, Justice Thomas discharged from hospital as concern over wife's texts mounts, and more

1

Joe Manchin will vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) revealed Friday he does in fact plan to confirm nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court. "After meeting with her, considering her record, and closely monitoring her testimony and questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, I have determined I intend to vote for her nomination to serve on the Supreme Court," Manchin said of Jackson in a statement. The senator's backing essentially ensures the nominee's confirmation.

2

Justice Thomas discharged from hospital as concern over wife's texts mounts

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been discharged from a Washington, D.C.-area hospital a week after being admitted for flu-like symptoms, the court announced Friday. Thomas, 73, was admitted on the evening of March 18. Tests showed he had an infection, and he received intravenous antibiotics. On Thursday, news outlets unveiled text messages between Thomas' wife, Ginni, and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in which the two discussed the 2020 election and fraud-related theories. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Friday said Thomas should now recuse himself from cases involving the Jan. 6 Capitol riot or the 2024 election, should former President Donald Trump decide to run.

3

Russian general says 'the liberation of Donbas' was always 'the main goal' of Russia's invasion

Colonel General Sergey Rudskoy, deputy head of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, announced Friday that "the main objectives of the first stage" of Russia's invasion of Ukraine "have generally been accomplished" and that having "considerably reduced" the "combat potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine," Russian forces can now "focus our core efforts on achieving the main goal, the liberation of Donbas." A senior diplomatic source in Moscow characterized the strategy pivot as a "face-saving move." Since invading Ukraine last month, Russian forces have taken heavy losses and failed to capture major Ukrainian cities.

4

Biden to give major speech in Poland but won't visit Ukraine

President Biden will deliver a major speech in Warsaw on Saturday, wrapping up his four-day trip to Europe. According to U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Biden will explain "why it is so important that the free world stay in unity and resolve in the face of Russian aggression." On Friday, during a visit to U.S. troops stationed in Poland, Biden expressed disappointment that he was unable to visit Ukraine. "Quite frankly, part of my disappointment is that I can't see it firsthand like I have in other places," Biden said. "They will not let me, understandably, I guess, cross the border and take a look at what's going on in Ukraine."

5

Biden announces 'game plan' to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian gas

President Biden has announced the United States will form a joint task force with the European Commission to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian energy. While in Brussels on Friday, Biden held a joint press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and announced the task force, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin has used Russia's energy resources "to coerce and manipulate" neighbors and "drive his war machine." The U.S. "welcomed the European Union's powerful statement earlier this month committing to rapidly reducing its dependence on Russian gas," Biden said. "Today, we've agreed on a joint game plan toward that goal while accelerating our progress toward a secure, clean energy future."

6

J.K. Rowling hits back after Putin says Russia and Rowling are both victims of cancel culture

Russian President Vladimir Putin, weeks after launching a widely condemned invasion of Ukraine, complained in a speech Friday that both Russia and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling are being "canceled." Rowling, who has been harshly criticized for her views on transgenderism, responded with a condemnation of Putin. "Critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics," Rowling tweeted, linking to an article about jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. The writer also highlighted the work her children's charity, Lumos, is doing in Ukraine, and thanked those who had donated to the cause.

7

Utah passes transgender sports ban over governor's veto

Utah's Republican-dominated legislature overrode the governor's veto on Friday to pass a ban a bill banning transgender girls from participating in women's school sports. The House voted 56-18 in favor of HB11, while the Senate voted 21-8. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) vetoed the bill on Tuesday, a move that drew the ire of cultural conservatives. The bill initially passed without supermajorities in either chamber, but 10 Republicans in the House and five in the Senate who initially voted against the bill supported it this time, providing the votes necessary to override Cox's veto. The law is set to take effect on July 1.

8

Prince William says he supports Caribbean realms that want to become republics

Prince William, the eldest grandson of Queen Elizabeth and second in line to the throne, said Friday during a visit to the Bahamas that he would support the queen's Caribbean realms if they chose to become republics. "Next year, I know you are all looking forward to celebrating 50 years of independence — your Golden Anniversary," he said in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. "And with Jamaica celebrating 60 years of independence this year, and Belize celebrating 40 years of independence last year, I want to say this: We support with pride and respect your decisions about your future. Relationships evolve. Friendship endures." In November, Barbados removed the queen as head of state.

9

Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins dies at 50

Taylor Hawkins, the drummer for the rock band Foo Fighters, died Friday at the age of 50 shortly before the band was set to perform at a festival in Bogotá, Colombia. A reporter on the scene said crowd members began placing "candles on the stage where the Foo Fighters were supposed to play." Hawkins was the touring drummer for Alanis Morrisette before joining Foo Fighters in 1997. In his 2021 memoir, Foo Fighters frontman and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl described Hawkins as a "brother from another mother, my best friend, a man for whom I would take a bullet." No cause of death has been reported.

10

St. Peter's beats Purdue in major March Madness upset

St. Peter's University, a Jersey City Jesuit school with around 2,600 undergraduate students that is seeded at No. 15 in the NCAA men's tournament, advanced to the Elite Eight after defeating No. 3 seed Purdue University on Friday. The St. Peter's Peacocks beat the Purdue Boilermakers 67-64 in Philadelphia. St. Peter's clinched its spot in the Sweet Sixteen after another upset victory over the No. 2-seeded University of Kentucky. The Peacocks will face the University of North Carolina — seeded at No. 8 in the March Madness tournament — on Sunday for a spot in the Final Four.

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