Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 10, 2022

Assassin thought Abe was linked to Unification Church, Trump calls Elon Musk a 'bulls--t artist,' and more

1

Assassin thought Abe was linked to Unification Church

Tetsuya Yamagami, the man accused of assassinating former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was reportedly motivated by his hatred of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, also known as the Unification Church. Members are sometimes referred to by a pejorative colloquialism derived from the name of the group's founder — the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Tetsuya Yamagami allegedly resented the Unification Church because his mother, who is a member, had become bankrupt after making donations to the group. Abe did not belong to the Unification Church, but he did give paid speeches at church-related events, and its members formed a reliable voting bloc for Abe's Liberal Democratic Party.

2

Elon Musk is a 'bulls--t artist,' Trump tells crowd at Alaska rally

Former President Donald Trump told a crowd in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday that Tesla CEO Elon Musk had mislead him about his voting history. "You know, Elon says he's never voted Republican, but I didn't know that because he told me that he voted for me, so he's another bull--t artist," Trump said. He also described Musk's possibly defunct agreement to buy Twitter as "a mess" and said the deal would not go through, instead urging the crowd to use his own social networking app — Truth Social. Musk said last month that his vote for Texas Republican Mayra Flores was the "first time I ever voted Republican."

3

Blinken urges Chinese counterpart to 'stand up' to Russia

 Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to "stand up" to Russia during a Saturday meeting in Indonesia. After the meeting, which lasted more than five hours, Blinken told reporters that Wang had repeated Chinese claims to neutrality in the war between Russia and Ukraine. "I would start with the proposition that it's pretty hard to be neutral when it comes to this aggression. There's a clear aggressor. There's a clear victim," Blinken said. The secretary of state also told reporters he had "tried to convey" to Wang "that this really is a moment where we all have to stand up" and condemn Russian aggression.

4

Retired army general loses consulting contract after mocking first lady in tweet

Retired Lt. Gen. Gary Volesky, who won a Silver Star in Iraq and previously served as the Army's top spokesperson, was suspended from his $92-an-hour consulting contract and placed under investigation after apparently mocking first lady Jill Biden on Twitter. "For nearly 50 years, women have had the right to make our own decisions about our bodies. Today, that right was stolen from us," Biden tweeted on June 24 — the day the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In response, Volesky mocked the first lady's support of transgenderism. "Glad to see you finally know what a woman is," he wrote, according to a report published Saturday.

5

Sri Lankan president to resign amid widespread protests

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced Sunday that he will resign from office on Wednesday, hoping "to ensure a peaceful transfer of power." The previous day, protesters stormed the presidential residence and opened its kitchen, library, artworks, and swimming pool to the public. Rajapaksa had already been evacuated on Friday. The president, who comes from a powerful Sri Lankan political dynasty, has been accused of mismanaging Sri Lanka's economy as the island nation of 22 million people faces bankruptcy as well as severe shortages of food, fuel, and medicine.

6

VP Harris: Dems failed to codify Roe because 'we took' abortion rights 'for granted'

Democrats failed to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law because they took abortion rights "for granted," Vice President Kamala Harris said during an interview set to air Sunday. When asked why Democratic lawmakers didn't take action to secure abortion rights when they had the chance, Harris responded, "I think that, to be very honest with you ... we certainly believed that certain issues are just settled." She went on to say that Congress can still act to protect "the rights that, again, we took for granted." The House is expected to pass the Women's Health Protection Act, which would codify Roe, but Democrats don't have the votes to get it through the Senate.

7

Russia prepares to attack Slovyansk

Having taken control of Luhansk Oblast, Russia appears to have identified its next major objective: the city of Slovyansk in Donetsk Oblast. Slovyansk had a pre-war population of around 110,000, though all but around 20,000 have fled. The city was one of the flashpoints of the Russian-backed revolt that began in 2014. On Saturday, Russia launched artillery shells and missiles into Slovyansk and captured a neighboring village. Russian forces took an "operational pause" last week, suspending major offensive operations, but the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War assesses that they "are likely setting conditions to resume offensive operations toward Slovyansk."

8

Jan. 6 committee: former White House counsel revealed Trump's 'supreme dereliction of duty'

Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone's interview with the Jan. 6 committee revealed new "information demonstrating [former President] Donald Trump's supreme dereliction of duty," the committee said in a statement Saturday. Cipollone sat for an eight-hour private interview on Friday, during which he was reportedly asked detailed questions about pardons, claims of election fraud, and Trump's campaign to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence into overturning the results of the 2020 election. ""In our interview with Mr. Cipollone, the Committee received critical testimony on nearly every major topic in its investigation, reinforcing key points regarding Donald Trump's misconduct," said committee spokesperson Tim Mulvey. Cipollone was not asked to corroborate the details of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony.

9

Biden defends upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia

In a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday, President Biden outlined his goals for an upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, where he hopes to "start a new and more promising chapter of America's engagement." Biden touted his forceful response to Saudi Arabia's state-sponsored murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, including sanctions and visa bans. The goal, Biden wrote, was "to reorient — but not rupture — relations" with the Saudis. Biden praised the kingdom for supporting a truce in Yemen and helping to "stabilize oil markets," though he acknowledged that "there are many who disagree" with the trip due to Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses. Biden is scheduled to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

10

Conservative leadership race takes shape after Johnson resignation

With Boris Johnson stepping down as prime minister of the United Kingdom, Britain's Conservatives must choose a new leader for their party and their country. Candidates include Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Attorney General Suella Braverman, Foreign Affairs Committee chair Tom Tugendhat, former Health Secretary Sajid Javid, former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is touting himself as the "only major candidate" who did not serve in Johnson's government. Former Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt has not officially entered the race, but polling suggests that plenty of Tories are hoping she will.

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