10 Things in Politics: New emails reveal Hunter Biden wanted $2M for Libya deal: exclusive

10 Things in Politics: New emails reveal Hunter Biden wanted $2M for Libya deal: exclusive
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Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to receive this newsletter. Plus, download Insider's app for news on the go - click here for iOS and here for Android. Send tips to bgriffiths@insider.com.

Here's what we're talking about:

With Phil Rosen.

Hunter Biden with the flag of Libya behind him. Stacks of money fill the green portion of the Libyan flag. The background color is gray.
Hunter Biden. Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA; Samantha Lee/Insider

1. EXCLUSIVE: Insider obtained emails indicating that Hunter Biden asked for a $2 million annual retainer plus "success fees" to help unfreeze Libyan assets during the Obama administration. The communications offer "a window into the mechanics of Beltway influence peddling and the stock that was put in Biden's political connections," as my colleague writes.

Here's a look at Insider's latest scoop:

Background: The Obama administration froze up to $15 billion in assets during Muammar Gaddafi's rule. In 2015, long after Gaddafi's ouster and death, two Democratic donors with business in the Persian Gulf pitched Hunter Biden about joining their cause.

  • The two donors were frank in discussing Hunter Biden's connections: "Since he travels with dad he is connected everywhere in Europe and Asia where M.Q. [Gaddafi, also spelled Qaddafi] and LIA [Libya Investment Authority] had money frozen. He said he has access to highest level in PRC [China], he can help there," Sam Jauhari, one donor, wrote in January 2015 to Mohammed al-Rahbani, another donor.

Nothing appears to have come from the conversations: The White House declined to provide a statement to Insider. An attorney for al-Rahbani said his client "knows to a certainty that he never spoke to and has no recollection of talking about Hunter Biden."

Read more about how the emails show how influence peddling works in Washington.

2. FDA authorizes booster shots for older adults and others at high risk: The Food and Drug Administration authorized booster doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine starting six months after the second dose for older adults and others considered at high risk of falling ill. The FDA decision caps more than a month of messy debate over the US vaccination drive. Here's what still needs to happen including CDC approval, which could happen this week.

3. Democrats are working feverishly to avoid a shutdown: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has yet to tell his fellow Democrats what the party's plan B will be to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month, Politico reports. Top Senate Republicans have made clear they plan not to support a House-passed bill meant to avert a shutdown and avoid a debt default. Should Democrats elect to do something different, they'll have to move quickly to get it passed in time.

  • Former GOP Treasury secretaries couldn't get Mitch McConnell to budge: The former Treasury secretaries Henry Paulson and Steven Mnuchin met with the Senate minority leader to attempt to resolve the debt-ceiling standoff, The Washington Post reports. But they failed to persuade McConnell to change his stance.

Tensions are starting to boil over: "We always do this," Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, told Politico of the stalemate, calling it "a ridiculous exercise" and adding that he couldn't "even compare it to anything I do on the farm that's this stupid."

4. Biden tries to cool Democratic infighting: Biden met separately with lawmakers from both wings of the Democratic Party to nudge them away from destroying his domestic agenda in the coming days over a series of disagreements, The Washington Post reports. Centrist Democrats are emphatic that Speaker Nancy Pelosi's earlier promise means the House will vote by Monday on a Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill. Progressive lawmakers, though, don't want to pass the bill until the Senate moves forward on a separate $3.5 trillion plan that would drastically change the safety net. But the White House huddles ended without any new agreements, leaving no certainty that party leaders wouldn't avoid the embarrassment of lawmakers opposing the leader of their party.

Tim Scott, Karen Bass, Cory Booker
Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

5. Policing talks have collapsed: Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, said there was still "too wide a gulf" and significant differences remained between the two major parties. Negotiations on a sweeping federal bill began last year following the killing of George Floyd. Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina who is his party's lead negotiator in the talks, blamed Democrats for the failure to reach a deal. One of the key sticking points was always whether lawmakers would change the way officers should be held liable for wrongdoing, particularly the issue of so-called qualified immunity. More on the collapse and what Democrats are calling on Biden to do by himself.

6. Bush seeking to boost Rep. Liz Cheney's reelection: Former President George W. Bush, in what would be his first event for the midterm cycle, plans to hold a fundraiser for Cheney in Dallas next month. The announcement comes just two weeks after former President Donald Trump endorsed Cheney's GOP primary opponent, Harriet Hageman. Trump has aggressively attacked Cheney, especially after the Wyoming lawmaker voted to impeach him following the Capitol insurrection. More on the long-running feud between the past two GOP presidents.

7. James Mattis testifies that he came to doubt Theranos' claims: Mattis, a former defense secretary, testified that he and other Theranos board members were taken aback by issues with the company's technology, The Wall Street Journal reports. "There came a point when I didn't know what to believe about Theranos anymore," Mattis said while on the stand ​​​​during the Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes' fraud trial. More on Mattis' testimony, including his disclosure that he invested $85,000 in Theranos.

8. France is starting to cool off following its submarine snub: France's US ambassador is set to return to his post following his dramatic departure after the US and the UK announced a submarine deal with Australia that cut out the French. The White House and French President Emmanuel Macron released a joint statement announcing the move after a call between the two leaders. Biden and Macron are now set to meet in Europe to further hash things out.

9. Texas gov. praises state troopers for erecting a "steel barrier" of vehicles along the border: Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday praised border officials and state troopers for positioning miles of police vehicles to deter Haitian migrants from crossing into Texas. Abbott, a Republican, laced into Biden, arguing that the president wasn't doing enough to secure the border. The latest on the situation.

10. You can get into every US national park free on Saturday: Entry is free for National Public Lands Day, one of six days this year when national parks open at no entry costs to visitors. You can go look around, hike, and hang out, but the waiver won't cover fees for camping, boat launches, or special tours. Here's everything you need to know for your trip.

Today's trivia question: The first memorial built on the Ellipse, an area near the White House, honors the only two American officials thought to be killed in which tragedy? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.

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