First Thing: January 6 committee subpoenas Donald Trump’s former counsel | US news

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The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack issued a subpoena on Wednesday to the former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone, compelling him to testify about at least three parts of Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

The subpoena marked a dramatic escalation for the panel and showed its resolve in seeking to obtain inside information about how the former president sought to return himself to office from the unique perspective of the White House counsel’s office.

“Mr Cipollone repeatedly raised legal and other concerns about President Trump’s activities on January 6 and in the days that preceded,” the chairman of the select committee, Bennie Thompson, said in a statement accompanying the subpoena.

“The committee needs to hear from him on the record, as other former White House counsels have done in other congressional investigations. Concerns Mr Cipollone has about the prerogatives of the office he previously held are clearly outweighed by the need for his testimony.”

  • What information does Cipollone have? Cipollone was a key witness to some of Trump’s most brazen schemes to overturn the 2020 election results and has information about Trump’s push to send fake slates of electors to Congress, the subpoena letter said.

  • What has Cipollone said about the subpoena? His spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment about whether he would comply with the subpoena or litigate.

R Kelly sentenced to 30 years on sexual abuse charges

Judge Ann Donnelly sentences R Kelly for federal sex trafficking in New YorkJudge Ann Donnelly sentences R Kelly for federal sex trafficking at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., June 29, 2022 in this courtroom sketch. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg
Judge Ann Donnelly sentences R Kelly for federal sex trafficking in New York. Photograph: Jane Rosenberg/Reuters

The singer R Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday for sexually abusing women, girls and boys, more than 20 years after first facing allegations.

Kelly’s conviction represents a victory for survivors of sexual violence, particularly those who may hesitate to speak out against abusers for fear of retribution.

Last September, a jury in New York City found Kelly guilty of sex trafficking and racketeering, on all nine counts against him.

The US district judge Ann Donnelly imposed the sentence at the federal court in Brooklyn after hearing from survivors who attested to how Kelly’s exploitation reverberated in their lives.

After the sentence was passed down, Donnelly spoke directly to Kelly, saying: “These crimes were calculated and carefully planned, and regularly executed for almost 25 years. You taught them that love is enslavement and violence.”

  • What did R Kelly’s victims say he did? They described how Kelly, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly, subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage. Several said he would demand they strictly obey rules such as needing his permission to eat or go to the bathroom, and writing “apology letters” that purported to absolve him of wrongdoing.

Captured US veteran told mom captors were ‘anxious’ to start release talks

This undated photograph provided by Dianna Shaw shows U.S. military veteran Alexander Drueke of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and his mother, Lois “Bunny” Drueke. Alex Drueke traveled to Ukraine to help with the fight against Russian invaders and was later reported missing. (Lois “Bunny” Drueke/Dianna Shaw via AP)
Alexander Drueke and his mother, Lois ‘Bunny’ Drueke. Photograph: Lois “Bunny” Drueke/AP

An Alabama army veteran who was captured in Ukraine while voluntarily helping the country fight Russian invaders spoke with his mother on Tuesday and said his captors were “anxious to begin negotiations for his release”, according to his family.

Alex Drueke did not communicate any demands from his captors or say when negotiations should start during the 10-minute conversation with his mom, said Lois “Bunny” Drueke, in a statement on Wednesday from her and his aunt, Dianna Shaw.

But Drueke’s mention of possible negotiations for his release came after the leader of the Russian-controlled territory Donetsk in Ukraine, where he is being detained, said he did not plan to swap him or another captured Alabama veteran for Russian prisoners of war.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden has announced that the US will increase its military forces across Europe with more land, sea and air deployments, as he gathered with Nato leaders for a two-day summit in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In other news …

People visit a memorial on Wednesday for the victims found in a truck in San Antonio, Texas.
People visit a memorial on Wednesday for the victims found in a truck in San Antonio, Texas. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • Federal authorities have charged four men in connection with the deaths of at least 53 migrants who were left in an abandoned trailer truck on Monday evening in Texas. The 45-year-old driver, Homero Zamorano Jr, faces charges of smuggling migrants into the US, leading to their deaths.

  • A team searching the basement of a Mississippi courthouse for evidence about the lynching of Black teenager Emmett Till has found the unserved warrant charging a white woman in his 1955 kidnapping, and relatives of the victim who initiated the hunt want authorities to finally arrest her nearly 70 years later.

  • China is not an adversary but it does represent serious challenges, Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, said on Wednesday, as the alliance agreed for the first time to include threats posed by Beijing into a blueprint guiding its future strategy.

  • Amazon has bowed to pressure from the United Arab Emirates and restricted search results for LGBTQ+-related products such as books and rainbow-coloured flags on its website in the country. The company decided to restrict the searches after being threatened with penalties by the UAE government, according to the New York Times.

Stat of the day: North Korean hackers thought to be behind $100m cryptocurrency heist

North Korean hackers are believed to have stolen $100m in cryptocurrency to help fund the regime’s missile program.
North Korean hackers are believed to have stolen $100m in cryptocurrency to help fund the regime’s missile program. Photograph: Fred Tanneau/AFP/Getty Images

North Korean hackers are thought to be behind last week’s theft of as much as $100m in cryptocurrency from a US company, as the regime steps up attempts to secure funding for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. The assets were stolen on 23 June from Horizon Bridge, a service operated by the Harmony blockchain that allows assets to be transferred to other blockchains, three digital investigative firms have concluded.

Don’t miss this: Zebras, giraffes … and a cycle race through the Maasai Mara

Lions laying down in Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya, where the race takes place.
Lions laying down in Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya, where the race takes place. Photograph: VW PICS/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

In the world of long-distance running, east Africans have long been the dominant force, and soon they may also be setting the pace in the whitest of elite sports: cycling. This month, the Migration Gravel Race (MGR) brought together 100 of the world’s top cyclists in a four-day showdown on the rocky, red dirt roads of Kenya’s Maasai Mara. With a third of the entrants from east Africa, it was a rare opportunity for the region’s riders to show they can rival the best, writes Stephen Burgen.

Climate check: how the US food system fuels climate crisis

Illustration featuring pieces of meat.
Currently, food production is caught in a battle between people and profits. Composite: Getty Images

Food and the climate crisis are locked in a tangled web of cause and effect. Globally, food systems contribute about a third of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, yet they are also uniquely vulnerable to climate impacts: from soaring temperatures and drought to intense rainfall and flooding, writes Amanda Schupak. From a beef-heavy diet to growing crops that don’t feed people, here we look at five of the biggest food and climate challenges facing the US.

Last Thing: Mystery as Canadian radio station plays Rage Against the Machine song nonstop

2007 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival - Day 3Zack de la Rocha and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
On Wednesday, callers’ attempts to request anything besides Killing in the Name were denied. Photograph: John Shearer/WireImage

Early on Wednesday morning, someone at a pop and soft rock station in Vancouver, Canada, began playing the song Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine. Then they played it again. And again. By midday, the song had played hundreds of times on Kiss Radio 104.9 FM, prompting lots of online speculation. Was it a protest by staff or marketing for a change of programming? Listeners to Kiss Radio 104.9 FM had plenty of time to wonder.

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