The White House announced Sunday National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met in Malta over the weekend, where Sullivan reportedly urged Yi against providing weapons to Russia in support of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The two also reportedly discussed “peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait” and agreed to high-level “consultations in key areas.” The meeting comes as China’s defense minister—who has not been seen in several weeks—is reportedly under investigation for corrupt procurement practices.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will attend the United Nations General Assembly’s annual meeting in New York City this week before arriving in Washington, D.C., where he’ll meet with President Joe Biden and senators on Capitol Hill. Zelensky is expected to appeal to U.S. and international leaders for continued aid as officials leading his country’s armed forces said over the weekend they have retaken three villages around Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
Iran expelled roughly one-third of the inspectors representing the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog over the weekend after more than 60 countries, including the U.S., expressed concern over Iran’s lack of compliance with the Nonproliferation Treaty’s “Safeguards Agreement.” Specifically, the countries had called on Iran to explain the presence of traces of uranium at undeclared nuclear sites. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, panned the move on Saturday. “I strongly condemn this disproportionate and unprecedented unilateral measure,” he said. The expulsions come one week after the Biden administration issued a waiver allowing banks to release $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds as part of an exchange to free Americans held by Iran.
Mexico extradited Ovidio Guzmán—the son of Sinaloa cartel drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán—to the U.S. last week to face drug charges. Mexican officials captured the younger Guzmán in January, and he and his brothers—who are responsible for much of the fentanyl produced and smuggled into the U.S.—were indicted by the Justice Department in April.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted by the Texas state Senate on Saturday on all 16 articles of impeachment stemming from accusations of corruption and abuses of power. Only two Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with the 12 Democrats in the chamber to convict on several articles, leaving the senate well short of the 21 votes necessary to convict Paxton on any of the 16 individual charges. Axiosreported yesterday some Texas state senators came under pressure from national Republican-aligned organizations threatening to fund primary challengers if they voted to convict. Paxton was immediately reinstated after his acquittal, ending a suspension that began in May.
Authorities in Hawaii announced Friday that 97 people died in last month’s devastating Maui wildfires, slightly below the original death toll estimate of 115. The revision comes after weeks of extensive DNA analysis that revealed some remains in the possession of the Maui county medical examiner belonged to the same person. It’s possible, however, that the death toll may rise again as more remains are discovered.
Politico reported last week that perhaps only a dozen women have taken advantage of a new Defense Department program allowing female service members to take paid leave and receive travel reimbursement for trips to seek reproductive treatment, including abortions. Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has blocked the promotion of some 300 senior military officials in protest of the policy, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has given no indication he will reverse course.
In an interview yesterday with Kristen Welker on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” former President Donald Trump denied he had ordered a Mar-a-Lago employee to delete security footage—one of the assertions in special counsel Jack Smith’s superseding indictment related to Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents and attempts to mislead the federal government about the documents whereabouts. Trump added he’d take the stand to give testimony to that effect: “Sure, I’m going to—I’ll testify,” he told Welker. But he added: “They were my tapes.”
In a Friday court filing, federal prosecutors sought restrictions on what Trump could say about his prosecution by Smith regarding Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Prosecutors claimed that Trump’s statements on social media, in particular, “undermine confidence in the criminal justice system and prejudice the jury pool through disparaging and inflammatory attacks on the citizens of this District, the Court, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses.” Smith’s team asked Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing the trial, to issue a narrow gag order on any Trump “statements about any party, witness, attorney, court personnel, or potential jurors that are disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating.” Even if such an order is issued, it’s unclear what penalties might be levied against the former president should he violate it.
Slumping Toward a Shutdown
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy arrives for a House GOP Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on September 14. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
We got our first whiff of autumn here in D.C. over the weekend, with temperatures dipping into the 50s, a handful of leaves starting to fall, and House Republicans putting on a live-action performance of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Speaker Kevin McCarthy was in the titular role, with a handful of GOP hardliners teaming up to play Lucy. Instead of a football being pulled away at the last minute, however, it’s a deal to stave off a government shutdown that remains ever-elusive, just beyond McCarthy’s grasp.
After a lengthy summer recess, the House has now been back in session for about a week—but lawmakers don’t appear to have made much headway on funding the government for the coming fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Two intra-GOP factions appeared to reach an agreement last night that would push that deadline back a month, just as Lucy appeared to be holding the football steady for Charlie to give it the boot. Within minutes, more Republicans than McCarthy can afford to lose were out with statements panning the proposal, which wouldn’t pass the Democratic-led Senate even if House Republicans are able to coalesce.
Worth Your Time
Should you read quickly, zooming through piles of books at a fast clip, or slow down and savor texts out of a fear of missing something key? Read voraciously, argues Philip Bunn for Law and Liberty. “One cannot do scholarship at the Hare’s pace,” Bunn contends. “But when I put down my John Adams, or my Plato, or my Adam Smith, or anything else needed for teaching or research, I turn to my endless pile of ‘to be read’ books. These books, I read differently. If I pick up Brandon Sanderson’s latest fantasy offering, for example, I can simply allow myself to become immersed in the story. In this form of reading, I can cover material much faster than I can with the previous method, and thus my Goodreads ‘read’ list inflates apace. I submit that this latter type of reading is neither less valuable nor less essential than the former. If I act as an academic buzzkill, ready to jump down the throats of the heavy readers for failing to slow down and appreciate great texts, or for reading light and pleasurable material instead of dense, heady works, I risk squashing the love of engaging with texts. This is what might inspire those readers to find pleasure in the books I delight in myself. If I discourage my students from letting a Shakespeare play or a Platonic dialogue simply wash over them before descending the rabbit hole of exegesis, I risk hiding the magic that makes these texts Great and perennial. This does not require me to engage in hokey attempts to make old texts ‘relevant’ to the modern reader; it simply means allowing the consistently human parts of the texts to work their magic unimpeded by potentially stifling expectations of scholarly rigor.”
Alex debunked Vivek Ramaswamy’s claim that hundreds of peaceful January 6 protesters are being detained without bail.
In the newsletters: The Dispatch Politics team reported on David McCormick’s likely run for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, Harvest offered an update from the Hill, Nick unpacked the Democratic Party’s Kamala Harris problem, Jonah weighed in on Biden’s lies, Romney’s retirement, and populism, and Chris took a hard look at what voters are saying about Joe Biden.
On the podcasts: Steve and Sarah checked in on their High Steaks (🔒) bet, while Jonah ruminated on Mitt Romney’s legacy.
On the site over the weekend: Haley spoke to Rend Collective’s Chris Llewellyn about his new worship album and Clare Coffey reviewed Tara Isabella Burton’s book, Self-Made: Creating Our Identities From Da Vinci to the Kardashians.
On the site today: Thomas Lambert explains the Google antitrust trial.
Let Us Know
What do you think of Bunn’s thesis in Law and Liberty? In your own life, do you prioritize reading widely or deeply?