Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 1, 2022

Nancy Pelosi meets with Zelensky in Kyiv, Biden praises journalists and roasts Trump at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, and more

1

Nancy Pelosi meets with Zelensky in Kyiv

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Ukraine since the war began in February when she met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv in Saturday. Her trip to Kyiv comes on the heels of last week's visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Accompanying Pelosi was a delegation that included Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), and Jim McGovern (Mass.). Zelensky awarded Pelosi with the Order of Princess Olga, a decoration honoring women for "personal merits" in several "spheres of social activities." The delegation's next stop is Poland, where they will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

2

'Some guy named Brandon' is having a 'good year,' Biden quips at White House Correspondents' Dinner

President Biden mocked his predecessor at Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner, referring to former President Donald Trump's administration as "a horrible plague followed by two years of COVID." Saturday marked the first time in six years that a president had spoken at the star-studded fundraiser, due to the pandemic and Trump's acrimonious relationship with the press. In his speech, Biden praised the journalists in attendance as "guardians of truth." The president also made light of the slogan "Let's go Brandon" — a right-wing euphemism for "F--k Joe Biden" — quipping that "some guy named Brandon" is having "a really good year."

3

About 20 civilians escape besieged Mariupol steel plant

About 20 women and children were evacuated from Mariupol's besieged Azovstal steel plant on Saturday. As many as 3,000 Ukrainian troops and civilians may remain trapped inside. On April 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in Mariupol and ordered his troops to seal off the steel plant, which represents the last bastion of resistance inside the city, instead of storming it. The Azovstal plant's defenders have refused multiple Russian demands for surrender. Russian media claim that 25 civilians — including six children under the age of 14 — escaped the plant on Saturday. Sviatoslav Palamar, the deputy commander of Ukraine's Azov Battalion, said the civilians would be evacuated to Ukrainian-controlled territory.

4

NY Gov. Hochul's team missed red flag when vetting disgraced former lieutenant governor

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and her team overlooked a major red flag during the rushed two-week vetting process for disgraced former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin (D), an investigation found. Benjamin resigned on April 12 after federal prosecutors in Manhattan announced bribery charges against him. In August, the team vetting Benjamin was aware that his failed campaign for New York City comptroller had received dozens of potentially fraudulent donations, but Benjamin failed to disclose — and Hochul's team failed to uncover — that Manhattan prosecutors had already served Benjamin's campaign with a subpoena as part of an investigation into the same campaign contributions that ultimately led to the bribery charges.

5

Russia's offensive in the Donbas is 'not succeeding,' Ukrainian military says

Russian forces pressed the attack in eastern Ukraine on Saturday but failed to capture their three main objectives, the Ukrainian military said. Per the general staff of Ukraine's armed forces, the Russians were attempting to capture the city of Lyman in the Donetsk Oblast and the cities of Sievierodonetsk and Popasna in the Lukahsk Oblast. The Pentagon said Russian forces are making minimal progress in the face of intense Ukrainian resistance.

6

GOP is a 'hot mess' that's 'tinkering on fascism,' DNC chair says

The Republican Party is a "hot mess" built on "fear" and "fraud," Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison said on MSNBC Saturday. "They are tinkering on fascism right now in the Republican Party," he added. Harrison's comments came during a discussion with MSNBC host Tiffany Cross, who asked him how "millions of voters" could be "so eager to turn this country over to the right-wing extremists that now comprise the GOP." To counter Republican messaging, Harrison said, the Democratic Party "has to be a party that is about hope."

7

Biden's Disinformation Governance Board draws comparisons to Orwell's 'Ministry of Truth'

Former Democratic congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard denounced President Biden's new Disinformation Governance Board as "the kind of thing that you see in dictatorships" during an appearance on Fox News' Hannity on Saturday. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, whose department will oversee the Disinformation Governance Board, said last week that the board's mission would include combating the threat of Russian misinformation. Gabbard was not the only one to criticize the board. Fox News host Tucker Carlson compared it to the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's 1984 and suggested that the parents of Nina Jankowicz, the disinformation expert who will head the board, had "failed" and should feel "shame."

8

Amazon to stop offering paid leave for employees with COVID-19

Amazon told workers on Saturday that it will stop offering paid leave for employees with COVID-19. The online retail giant originally offered two weeks of paid time off for COVID before reducing the amount of paid leave to 40 hours in January. Under the new policy, which takes effect on Monday, U.S. employees will get five days of unpaid leave to recover from the virus. Amazon said the change stems from the widespread availability of COVID vaccines and revised guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We can continue to safely adjust to our pre-COVID policies," the company said.

9

Rand Paul says he'll investigate COVID lab leak theory if GOP retakes the Senate

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said at a campaign rally in Kentucky on Saturday that he plans to launch an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 virus if Republicans retake the Senate after the midterms. "When we take over in November, I will be chairman of a committee and I will have subpoena power. And we will get to the bottom of where this virus came from," Paul said, adding that "the evidence points to this virus being a leak from a lab." Paul, an eye surgeon and a libertarian, has frequently clashed with White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci over the government's COVID restrictions and the politically fraught question of the virus' origins.

10

Country singer Naomi Judd dead at 76

Country singer Naomi Judd has died at the age of 76, her daughters announced Saturday. "Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness," Ashley Judd wrote on Twitter. Naomi Judd formed one half of the Grammy-winning family duo The Judds, in which she provided harmonies for her daughter Wynonna. The two performed at the CMT Music Awards in April and were set to embark on a stadium tour this fall. Naomi Judd's death came just one day before The Judds' official induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame CEO Kyle Young said the induction ceremony will still take place.

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