Here's what we're talking about:
- Americans who helped prosecute the Taliban are now going down a "black hole" to help their Afghan interpreters
- Three fully-vaccinated senators say they have COVID
- GOP lawmaker failed to properly disclose up to $10.9 million in stock trades
With Phil Rosen.
What we're watching today: President Biden will speak about the evacuation of American citizens and their families from Afghanistan
1. GETTING PEOPLE OUT: Americans who worked with Afghans are aghast. Veterans have been open about their struggle with the Taliban's blitz across the country. Former federal officials also fear what might happen to the coworkers and interpreters who risked their lives helping them.
Among those are former Justice Department officials scrambling to help Afghans who helped prosecute the Taliban.
A look at my colleague's gripping report on the situation:
Their top priority is getting out the Afghans who assisted in DOJ efforts: "It's not anger. There's time for that later. This is just a full-on effort to get the people they care about in safe haven," said David Schwendiman, who worked as the DOJ attaché at the US embassy, among other jobs in the country.
- But unrest around the Kabul airport has made this extraordinarily difficult: "[T]he question is how do I get them here. It's a black hole," said Michael Sherwin, a former federal prosecutor. "They can't get the visas now. It's almost impossible to get out of Afghanistan, so everyone's on their own." Sherwin is trying to help the family of an interpreter he worked with.
Both officials say they saw Afghanistan's struggles up close: "You knew everything would go to shit because there's massive corruption and they would release people for money or release people because they were afraid of warlords," Sherwin said of convicted terrorists getting released early, adding the US government turned over convicted detainees to the Afghan government in 2012.
2. The Taliban quashed protests as it tightens its hold on Afghanistan: Hundreds of protesters took to the streets for a second day to rally against the militant group's rule, The New York Times reports. Once again, fighters used gunfire and beatings to disperse crowds, undermining claims from Taliban leadership that the group would be more moderate. A UN intel report says the Taliban is stepping up the search for any Afghans who worked with US or NATO forces.
Other Afghanistan-related headlines:
- Striking videos show Afghan women leading protests in Kabul: In one video, a woman is seen raising her fist, urging the men around her to move forward and keep marching.
- Evacuation flights for Americans and Afghans in Kabul aren't guaranteed to be free: US law requires the payments, but officials have described the situation as fluid.
3. GOP lawmaker failed to properly disclose up to $10.9 million in stock trades: Rep. Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee failed to properly disclose more than 700 stock trades that together are worth at least $728,000 - and as much as $10.9 million, according to our analysis. Harshbarger's late disclosures involved stock trades by herself and her husband, Robert Harshbarger, between early January and June, though her office said the trades were directed by a financial planner. Harshbarger's trades covered blue-chip companies like Facebook and Walmart, as well as potential conflicts of interests.
- Sen. Ted Cruz has been doling jobs to his cousins: Cruz employed the daughter of his first cousin in his Senate office as a paid press assistant and gave his cousin's son a coveted Senate internship. The Texas Republican did not violate the letter of the law. A spokesperson also called the story "classic fake news." An ethics expert had concerns that "the taxpayer is subsidizing the training of his relatives."
4. Three fully-vaccinated senators said they have COVID: Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, and Democratic Sen. John Hickenlooper of Colorado revealed their diagnoses. Each lawmaker said they were experiencing some mild symptoms, though all of them are fully vaccinated, which statistically makes any severe illness highly unlikely. The breakthrough infections come as the Senate is out of session this week.
- Biden says he and first lady Jill Biden will receive booster shots: The booster news applies to those who, like the Bidens, took a two-dose regimen for the jabs. Officials expect Johnson & Johnson recipients to have guidance soon.
5. Vice President Harris is set to begin a tour of southeast Asia: Her trip has a new meaning as the chaos in Kabul shakes US allies and sparks worries about America's resolve, the Associated Press reports. She will stop in Singapore and Vietnam. China's shadow is expected to loom over the entire journey.
6. Enough Texas Democrats have returned to the state: The Texas legislature officially met a quorum over a month after House Democrats fled to DC to try to block a GOP-led effort to pass restrictive voting legislation. Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to keep calling special legislative sessions until lawmakers passed the voting bill and finished other business. Here's what's ahead for Texas lawmakers.
- Texas is halting its enforcement of mask mandates in public schools: The decision by a state education board to temporarily stop the enforcement due to pending litigation is a major reversal of Abbott's wishes.
7. Police took into custody a man claiming to have a bomb after an hourslong standoff near the US Capitol: The man livestreamed himself during part of his five-hour standoff with the authorities. Capitol Police evacuated the area around the Library of Congress, which includes office space for Hill staffers. The man delivered a tirade in which he attacked Biden and other Democrats, and claimed he was a "patriot."
8. Trevor Bauer's accuser was denied a restraining order: A California woman was denied her requested protection from the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher after a judge ruled that she did not make her boundaries on rough sex clear enough. MLB has placed Bauer on extended paid leave since July; the league did not comment on the ruling. More on the decision.
9. OnlyFans is radically changing its business model: The company said it plans to block users from posting sexually explicit content in October, a major branding change for the site that has gained much of its success from pornographic content. It's generated over $5 billion since it was created in 2016, but OnlyFans has reportedly faced difficulties in drumming up future investments. The company's future policy is unclear, but it pledged to share more soon.
10. Animated map shows the evolution of American accents: The United States has countless accents. But where did they all come from? Take a look at the influences on how locals sound.
Today's trivia question: America's first official circulation coin was nothing like our current penny. On the reverse was the English version of what eventually became the US motto. What phrase was stamped on the coin's other side? Bonus: Guess the Latin word that accompanied it. Email your guess and a suggested question to me at [email protected].
- Yesterday's answer: On July 4, 1960, the White House officially adopted the new 50-star flag to commemorate Hawaii's admission to the union. Ceremonies were held throughout the country.