Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 24, 2022

Zelensky to meet with Secretaries Blinken and Austin in Kyiv, Orrin Hatch dies at 88, and more

1

Zelensky to meet with Secretaries Blinken and Austin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Kyiv on Sunday, marking the highest-level face-to-face meeting between Ukrainian and American officials since the war began. Ahead of the meeting, Zelensky said at a news conference that he expects "specific weapons" from the visitors and that they "should not come here with empty hands." The Biden administration has reportedly faced pressure to send a high-level official to Ukraine after several European leaders — including United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson — traveled to Kyiv to meet with Zelensky. President Biden visited Eastern Europe last month but did not set foot in Ukraine.

2

Orrin Hatch, longest-serving GOP senator in U.S. history, dead at 88

Former Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who served in the U.S. Senate from 1977 to 2019, died Saturday at the age of 88. He was the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history. During his seven terms, Hatch helped pass the Americans With Disabilities Act, co-wrote the Children's Health Insurance Program, and played a key role in passing former President Donald Trump's tax cuts. He also briefly ran for president in 2000. Trump awarded Hatch the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018. The following year, Hatch retired from the Senate and was replaced by Sen. Mitt Romney (R).

3

Russian missiles kill 8 in Odessa as Ukrainians and Russians celebrate Easter

At least eight Ukrainian civilians were killed and 18 wounded in a Russian missile strike on the port city of Odessa on Saturday as Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians celebrated their most sacred holiday. Odessa City Council Deputy Petro Obukhov referred to the missiles as "Easter gifts from [Russian President Vladimir] Putin." Zelensky administration official Andriy Yermak said in a statement that among the dead was a three-month-old baby. "Evil will be punished," Yermak added. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, attended an Easter vigil service on Saturday night, where he urged Ukrainians not to be consumed by anger. "All of us believe our sunrise will come soon," he said.

4

Utah Dems nominate no one to challenge Mike Lee, pinning hopes on independent Evan McMullin

Utah Democrats declined to nominate a candidate for U.S. Senate at their nominating convention on Saturday in order to give independent Evan McMullin a better chance at defeating Sen. Mike Lee (R). Democrat Kael Weston sought the party's nomination but will not appear on the ballot after being out-voted by the pro-McMullin faction at the convention. After the vote, Weston said he wants Utah to have a "healthy political marketplace, and that's not going to be possible if we don't have Democrats on the ballot." McMullin, a center-right former CIA officer, ran for president in 2016 as a "Never Trump" candidate, receiving over 20 percent of the popular vote in Utah.

5

Russian forces renew attacks on Mariupol steel plant

Russian troops launched an attack on Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant on Saturday, aiming to eliminate the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the southern port city. This renewed assault comes as a reversal of earlier Russian policy. On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in Mariupol and ordered his defense minister to seal off the steel plant "so that not even a fly comes through" instead of storming it. Around 2,000 Ukrainian troops and 1,000 civilians reportedly remain holed up in the sprawling Azovstal facility.

6

Trump touts J.D. Vance at Ohio rally

Former President Donald Trump appeared at a rally in Delaware County, Ohio, on Saturday night, where he urged voters to support Hillbilly Elegy author — and former Never-Trumper — J.D. Vance in the state's competitive Republican Senate primary. "He's a guy that said some bad s--t about me. But you know what? Every one of the others did also. In fact, if I went by that standard, I don't think I would have ever endorsed anybody," Trump said. Vance told the crowd it took him "a little bit longer to come along to the president" but credited Trump with helping him realize that "we are living in an incredibly corrupt country."

7

Air Force general convicted of sexual misconduct

Air Force Maj. Gen. William Cooley became the highest-ranking officer in Air Force history to be convicted of a crime when a military judge found him guilty of sexual misconduct on Saturday. Cooley was convicted of forcibly kissing a civilian Air Force employee and acquitted on two other charges stemming from alleged forcible touching incidents. ""Hopefully, this will not be as difficult for the next survivor," the victim said in a statement. Cooley could face up to seven years in prison, as well as a loss of rank, benefits, or pay. His sentencing hearing is set to begin Monday.

8

Democratic insiders predict 'doom' in November

Democratic insiders are feeling increasingly pessimistic about their party's chances of avoiding disaster in the November midterm elections, according to a report published Saturday. "Are you calling to ask me about our impending doom?" one Democratic strategist asked a reporter. In a recent presentation, Jim Kessler of the center-left think tank Third Way advised high-level Democrats not to consider any district "safe" unless President Biden won it by more than 12 percentage points in 2020. "If you're a district that is Biden plus 12 or less, you need to run like you're losing," Kessler said.

9

Michigan GOP nominates Trump ally for secretary of state

First-time candidate Kristina Karamo, a strong support of former President Donald Trump's baseless claims that widespread voter fraud cost him the 2020 election, won the endorsement of the Michigan Republican Party on Saturday. Around 67 percent of the approximately 2,000 delegates at the GOP nominating convention backed Karamo, who will challenge incumbent Democrat Jocelyn Benson in November. "It's like putting arsonists in charge of a fire department. It's like putting a bank robber in charge of a bank and giving them the keys to the vault," Benson said, casting the election as "a choice between whether or not we'll have a democracy."

10

French voters choose between Macron and Le Pen

French voters cast ballots on Sunday in a runoff election between centrist President Emmanuel Macron — who would be the first French president in 20 years to win a second term — and right-wing challenger Marine Le Pen, who trails Macron in the polls but could still score an upset victory. Polls opened at 8:00 a.m. and will close at 8:00 p.m. The leaders of Spain, Portugal, and Germany, fearful of Le Pen's Eurosceptic views, penned an op-ed last week implicitly exhorting French voters to back Macron.

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