Hunter Biden's Shock Cameo

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Good morning and happy Thursday! McDonald's is really super-sizing this one. The Double Big Mac -- yes, that would be four beef patties -- will roll out nationwide for a limited time later this month. The fast food chain originally launched the behemoth burger in 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic undercut its debut. Will you get one? Let us know!

In Today’s Brief

  • House: Johnson’s right flank revolts

  • UK: Post Office scandal exonerations

  • Debate: DeSantis, Haley square off

  • Neiman Marcus: CEO denies sale talk

  • Nick Saban: Alabama coach retiring

... and more

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1) Hunter causes all hell to break loose

Hunter Biden sent Capitol Hill into a tizzy with a surprise appearance, drawing the ire of Republicans.

  • What happened: President Joe Biden's son, flanked by attorney Abbe Lowell and associate Kevin Morris, crashed a hearing on whether he should be held in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena. Biden refused to sit for a closed-door subpoena last month, saying he wanted to testify publicly.

  • Sound bites: Republicans on the Oversight Committee went on the offensive as Biden sat in the gallery. South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace said she thought Biden should be arrested, among other colorful comments. Biden walked out of the hearing after a few minutes. Lowell then gave a statement to reporters. The White House declined to say whether the President knew of his son's plan.

  • Big picture: A contempt resolution was recommended out of committee later in the day. The full House is expected to vote on it next week. Biden will clearly continue to be a key figure surrounding his father's reelection campaign.

2) U.S., UK are fed up with the Houthis

The U.S. and United Kingdom indicated they are on the verge of military action against an Iranian-backed group antagonizing the Red Sea.

  • What happened: The Houthi rebels, who operate out of Yemen, launched their biggest attack yet on shipping vessels in the region. British and U.S. forces repelled over 20 drones and missiles on Tuesday.

  • Ongoing issue: The Houthis have been attacking commercial and military crafts since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, slowing international commerce. They say they are targeting any ships assisting or heading to Israel. A U.S.-led task force has repelled attacks and protected ships, but has not gone on the offensive.

  • Big picture: The United Nations Security Council has demanded the Houthis stop their attacks. But the militants have not bowed to similar diplomatic pleas. The U.S. has stressed a desire to prevent an expanded regional conflict but may feel compelled to use force.

3) Christie goes down swinging

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie suspended his presidential campaign last night at a town hall in New Hampshire.

  • Long-shot bid ends: Christie said he did not have a path to win the Republican nomination and would not stay in the race and potentially enable Donald Trump to become president again. Christie's campaign centered on his status as Trump's most outspoken critic.

  • Still punching: Christie offered another stinging rebuke of Trump during his announcement. He also was heard saying former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley "is going to get smoked" and that "she's not up for this" on a hot mic. Christie also said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was "petrified" on the hot mic, but did not specify why. Christie also took on-the-record shots at them.

  • Big picture: Christie's exit could clear a path for Haley to defeat Trump in the New Hampshire primary, based on recent polls. But it does not sound like an endorsement is coming.

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Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • House Republican hardliners tanked a unrelated procedural vote to protest Speaker of the House Mike Johnson's tentative spending deal with Democrats. The move comes days before a partial government shutdown; Johnson has not ruled out another short-term stopgap bill (More)

  • Don Scott was sworn in as the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, becoming the first Black person to hold the office. The Democrat previously served as the chamber’s minority leader (More)

  • TSA said it intercepted a record 6.7K guns at airport security checkpoints last year. Over 90% of the weapons were loaded when they were found (More)

World News

  • United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has introduced legislation to exonerate and compensate hundreds of postal workers wrongfully convicted of financial crimes. Faulty technology made it appear money was stolen from the UK Post Office over 20 years (More)

  • Israel will defend itself against genocide charges related to the Gaza War at the International Court of Justice in The Netherlands. The charges were levied by South Africa (More)

  • Thailand’s new government plans to criminalize recreational cannabis. The reversal comes 18 months after it became the first Asian nation to legalize the plant (More)

Campaign News

  • Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley attacked each other’s record in a fierce one-on-one GOP presidential debate. Donald Trump declined to attend, instead holding a Fox News town hall (More)

  • Trump will not deliver a closing argument today in his New York civil business fraud trial. A judge revoked permission after Trump refused to only comment on the case (More)

  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s presidential campaign is under FEC investigation. The election commission is probing whether the independent candidate's daughter-in-law received illegal payments for campaign work (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes closed up yesterday, marking optimism ahead of today's inflation report. The Dow Jones jumped 170 points while the Nasdaq enjoyed the biggest gain (Dow +0.45%, Nasdaq +0.75%, S&P 500 +0.57%).

  • Neiman Marcus is not for sale, according to the luxury retailer's CEO. Rival Saks Fifth Avenue has made several attempts to buy the company, including a $3B offer in December (More)

  • The SEC approved rule changes that will allow bitcoin ETFs. The decision came a day after the agency said an official social media account was hacked with an erroneous announcement (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • Alabama head football coach Nick Saban is retiring. Saban, 72, won seven national titles and 11 SEC championships during tenures with the Crimson Tide and LSU; he also coached at Michigan State, Toledo and with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins (More)

  • Barbie and Oppenheimer earned four Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations, tying for the lead among films. Succession led television categories with five (More)

  • Kanye West is accused of assault and battery in a new lawsuit. An autograph dealer alleges the artist struck him several times in Los Angeles in 2022, causing severe injuries (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Best Friend: Kobe, a 4-year-old husky, would not stop digging a hole in the front of his Philadelphia house. His owner's intuition told her the dog was trying to tell her something as he went deeper. And she was right -- Kobe's big hole helped detect a massive gas leak in the neighborhood.

  • Be Safe: The FDA is warning some scallops recently harvested in Massachusetts may be contaminated. Retailers in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania were told a supplier's product may have been illegally fished from prohibited waters.

  • Go Deep: Meet Paola Magni, a forensic entomologist. She has become world-renowned for her work using insects to help solve crimes, including a murder on a lake in Italy.

  • Life Hack: Tired (or not a fan) of coffee? Don't want to drink sugary energy drinks? Give black tea a try. It provides a bevy of health benefits, boost hydration and still gives you some caffeine when you are on the go

  • Get Healthy: Pop quiz: What’s the body’s most abundant protein? The answer: Collagen. NativePath's Certified Grass-Fed Collagen Powder is made from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows and contains 18 grams of protein per suggested serving. Start incorporating it daily to support skin elasticity, joint health, bone strength, and muscle growth and maintenance.*


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Looking Ahead …

There will be a slew of celestial events this year, including a complete solar eclipse in April, a partial lunar eclipse in September, and several meteor showers, including one happening right now. Here is a look at what stargazers have to look forward to.

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