10 things you need to know today: July 23, 2022
Bannon found guilty in contempt trial, Ukraine and Russia reach deal on Black Sea grain exports
Bannon found guilty in contempt trial
A jury found Steve Bannon guilty of contempt of Congress on Friday, after prosecutors accused the ex-adviser to former President Donald Trump of deciding he was "above the law" by ignoring a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Capitol riot. "This case is not complicated, but it is important," Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston said during closing arguments. "The defendant chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance with the law." Bannon defense lawyer Evan Corcoran claimed that his client "didn't intentionally refuse to comply with anything." Depending on his sentencing in October, Bannon could be the first person in over half a century to be jailed for contempt of Congress.
Ukraine and Russia reach deal on Black Sea grain exports
Ukraine and Russia reached a deal on Friday that would allow grain exports from Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea to resume in order to ameliorate the global food shortages caused by the war. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the agreement "a beacon of hope" after ministers from the two warring nations signed the deal in Istanbul. The agreement was thrown into jeopardy the following day when Russian missiles struck the city of Odessa, one of the ports Russia had agreed to unblock.
Trump and Pence hold competing rallies in Arizona
Former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence held competing rallies in Arizona on Friday, touting rival candidates in a gubernatorial primary that has become a major proxy fight in the battle for the GOP. Pence is backing businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson. Pence told the crowd that electing Robson would signal that "the Republican Party is the party of the future." Later, Pence tweeted that "[s]ome people" — presumably meaning Trump — "want this election to be about the past" — presumably meaning Trump's stolen election claims. Trump has endorsed former television anchor Kari Lake, who he said understands "how to fight back against the fake news media and the radical left."
Pentagon mulls sending fighter jets to Ukraine
Spokesman John Kirby said Friday that that Pentagon "is making some preliminary explorations into the feasibility of potentially providing fighter aircraft to Ukraine." He added that the United States would not be able to "execute" this plan "immediately or even in the short term." Ukrainian forces would need to be trained to fly and maintain U.S.-made aircraft. They would also need spare parts to make necessary repairs. Despite these hurdles, receiving American fighter jets would be a major win for Ukraine, which has been requesting them since the war began in February.
Newsom signs gun control bill inspired by Texas abortion ban
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed Senate Bill 1327, a gun control law modeled on the Texas abortion ban. Both pieces of legislation rely on private citizens, not police, to enforce the law. Specifically, SB 1327 empowers Californians to bring civil action — for a minimum of $10,000 per gun — against firearms dealers who sell guns to people under 21 or against anyone who manufactures, distributes, transports, or imports assault weapons or ghost guns. The California gun law contains a provision that would make it "inoperative upon invalidation" of the Texas abortion law.
Musk refuses blame after Twitter's second-quarter revenue falls short of projections
Billionaire Elon Musk refused on Friday to take the blame for Twitter's lower-than-expected revenue numbers for the second quarter of 2022. Twitter brought in $1.18 billion, falling short of the $1.32 billion analysts had predicted. The social media giant placed some of the blame for this on ""uncertainty related to the pending acquisition of Twitter" by Musk. "I'm rubber, they're glue," Musk tweeted in response, citing the first part of a schoolyard taunt that continues, "Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you."
Orbán urges new Ukraine strategy focused on peace, not victory
Nationalist conservative Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Saturday that the European Union should adopt a new Ukraine strategy "which should focus [on] peace talks and drafting a good peace proposal ... instead of winning the war" against Russia. Sanctions, he argued, have not been effective in undermining Russia's will to fight, and European governments are falling "like dominoes" as rising energy prices take their toll. Orbán, a controversial figure in Hungary and in Europe as a whole, won a fourth term in April after refusing to ban imports of Russian oil and gas or to allow weapons being sent to Ukraine to be shipped through Hungary.
Biden doing well despite COVID diagnosis, doctor says
President Biden's physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, said Friday that the president's COVID-19 symptoms "have improved" and that, despite a cough, Biden's pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation levels are "entirely normal." Biden reportedly sounded hoarse during a Friday Zoom meeting with a group of economic and energy advisers but assured them that he was "feeling much better than I sound." The president is fully vaccinated and boosted and is being treated with the anti-viral drug Paxlovid.
Wes Moore wins Maryland Democratic gubernatorial primary
Author and former nonprofit CEO Wes Moore was declared the winner of Maryland's Democratic gubernatorial primary on Friday, narrowly defeating former Labor Secretary Tom Perez. As of Saturday morning, Moore had won 170,885 votes to Perez's 142,999. Moore is highly favored to win in November against state Del. Dan Cox (R), whose hardline conservative positions are unlikely to play well in blue Maryland. Cox defeated Kelly Schulz, the would-be successor to moderate Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, after Democrats spent more than a million dollars on an ad designed to boost Cox at Schulz's expense.
WWE's Vince McMahon retires after misconduct allegations
Longtime WWE CEO Vince McMahon announced his retirement Friday after facing multiple allegations of misconduct. He shared the news in a tweet, which was confirmed in a statement from the company. "As I approach 77 years old, I feel it's time for me to retire as chairman and CEO of WWE," McMahon said. "Throughout the years, it's been a privilege to help WWE bring you joy, inspire you, thrill you, surprise you, and always entertain you." McMahon has since been accused of paying over $12 million to four women to suppress allegations of misconduct