House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has departed Taiwan after a controversial visit that was criticized by the Chinese government, as well as some officials within the Biden administration. Earlier today, Pelosi met with Taiwan’s president and said U.S. support for Taiwan was “ironclad.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy. America’s determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan and around the world remains ironclad.”
Pelosi is the highest-level U.S. official to visit Taiwan in a quarter-century. China denounced her visit, saying it was damaging to stability in the Taiwan Strait. China has announced plans to carry out new air and naval drills and long-range live-fire exercises in six areas around Taiwan beginning Thursday. Taiwan said the military exercises are “tantamount to an air and sea blockade of Taiwan.” We will have more on Taiwan after headlines.
Voters in Kansas have overwhelmingly rejected an anti-abortion ballot measure. Nearly 60% of Kansan voters opposed adding a constitutional amendment to remove the right to an abortion in the state. The lopsided vote surprised many. During the 2020 election, Donald Trump won the state by 15%. If the amendment had passed, it would have cleared the way for Republican state lawmakers to ban abortion.
The Justice Department has sued the state of Idaho over its near-total abortion ban. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Idaho’s ban violates the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.
Attorney General Merrick Garland: “It does not matter what state a hospital subject to EMTALA operates in. If a patient comes into the emergency room with a medical emergency jeopardizing the patient’s life or health, the hospital must provide the treatment necessary to stabilize that patient. This includes abortion when that is the necessary treatment. Any state law that prevents a hospital from fulfilling its obligation under EMTALA violates federal law.”
In more news on reproductive rights, President Biden is expected to sign a new executive order today aimed at safeguarding abortion access.
Voters went to the polls for primaries Tuesday in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington. In Arizona, the far-right venture capitalist Blake Masters won the Republican Senate primary and will face Democrat Mark Kelly in November. Masters was endorsed by Donald Trump and bankrolled by his former boss, the billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel, who spent $13 million on the campaign. The white supremacist site VDARE has praised Masters as an “immigration patriot.” Masters has blamed gun violence on “Black people.”
In other results from Arizona, Mark Finchem won the Republican primary for Arizona secretary of state. Finchem is a state lawmaker and a member of the far-right Oath Keepers who has been subpoenaed by the House January 6 committee for his actions in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021, and for his involvement in attempting to overturn Biden’s victory in Arizona in 2020. Another election denier in Arizona, Kari Lake, is leading in the Republican gubernatorial primary, but the race is too close to call.
Meanwhile, Rusty Bowers, Arizona’s speaker of the House, has lost his bid for a state Senate seat, losing to a Trump-backed candidate. Last month, the Republican Party in Arizona censured Bowers for telling the House January 6 committee that Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, pressured him to overturn Biden’s 2020 election victory in Arizona.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has won Missouri’s Republican Senate primary, defeating a crowded field including Missouri’s disgraced former Governor Eric Greitens.
In Michigan, Republican Congressmember Peter Meijer, who voted to impeach Trump last year, has lost to John Gibbs, who was backed by Trump and has claimed Trump’s loss in the 2020 election was “mathematically impossible.” The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads to help elevate Gibbs’s message as part of what some see as a risky strategy of aiding far-right candidates who might be more vulnerable in the November general election.
In other election news from Michigan, Democratic Congressmember Haley Stevens has defeated fellow Democrat incumbent Andy Levin in the newly redrawn 11th Congressional District. AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, spent over $3 million to defeat Levin, a progressive pro-labor politician who used to serve as president of his synagogue. Meanwhile, two members of the Squad — Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Cori Bush in Missouri — won their primaries, defeating challenges from more conservative Democrats.
Russia has accused the United States of direct involvement in the war in Ukraine for the first time. A spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry said intercepted communications show the United States is approving targets for U.S.-made HIMARS artillery used by Ukrainian forces. The spokesperson said, “It is the Biden administration that is directly responsible for all rocket attacks approved by Kyiv on residential areas and civilian infrastructure facilities in settlements of Donbas and other regions that caused mass deaths of civilians.” Russia had previously accused the United States of waging a proxy war in Ukraine.
The United Nations has announced an agreement was reached to extend a ceasefire in Yemen by another two months. The initial truce went into effect on April 2, but numerous violations of the ceasefire have been reported. The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war has led to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Yemenis have expressed hope the truce will finally bring the war to an end.
Mohammed al-Qa’ud: “The people of Yemen want the truce to remove this dark period from around them. For the siege to be broken, for salaries to be paid, for peace to return to all the people of Yemen.”
The Biden administration has approved $5 billion in missile sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — two countries accused of committing war crimes in Yemen. Under the deal, Saudi Arabia will buy 300 Patriot missiles made by Raytheon for $3 billion, and the UAE will purchase nearly 100 anti-ballistic THAAD missiles made by Lockheed Martin. The weapons sales were agreed to just weeks after Biden’s controversial visit to Saudi Arabia.
The New York Times reports two prominent Trump supporters in Arizona feared his plot to overturn the 2020 election could “appear treasonous.” Citing private emails, the Times reports Kelli Ward, the chair of the Arizona Republican Party, and state Senator Kelly Townsend, both expressed concerns about acting as fake electors who would claim Trump won the state even though Joe Biden received more votes. In an email on December 11, 2020, Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro wrote, “Ward and Townsend are concerned it could appear treasonous for the AZ electors to vote on Monday if there is no pending court proceeding that might, eventually, lead to the electors being ratified as the legitimate ones.” The attorney wrote the word “treasonous” in bold. Despite her concerns, Ward signed on to be a fake elector. Townsend did not, but she continued to promote Trump’s election lies.
In more news about Trump’s attempted coup, The Washington Post is reporting the Pentagon wiped data from the phones of several top military officials after the January 6 insurrection, including then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. Key data was also wiped from the phones of top officials at the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security.
The Senate has passed a bill to aid millions of former U.S. service members exposed to toxic waste. The bill would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to remove the burden of proof from vets who say their health problems are related to the Pentagon’s use of toxic “burn pits” in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure passed with a bipartisan vote of 86 to 11. It comes just a week after Senate Republicans blocked the bill from advancing after Senate Democrats announced they reached a deal on a separate bill aimed at cutting carbon emissions and reducing inflation. We will have more on burn pits later in the broadcast.