Hunter Biden indictment and Texas abortion ruling: Morning Rundown

New charges against Hunter Biden take aim at his ”extravagant” lifestyle. Former students of the UNLV shooter describe an eccentric professor obsessed with Las Vegas. And a popular online marketplace owes millions to sellers after its sudden shutdown.

Here’s what to know today.

Hunter Biden hit with new nine-count indictment

Hunter Biden has been indicted on nine tax-related charges, including three felony counts, according to documents filed yesterday in federal court in Los Angeles. The 56-page filing included allegations that President Joe Biden’s son failed to pay taxes, failed to file, evaded an assessment and filed a fraudulent form.

The indictment says that “rather than pay his taxes,” Biden “spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle.” The filing alleges Biden spent money on “drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing” and more — “everything but his taxes.” The indictment also points to certain payments that it says were incorrectly listed as expenses. 

The charges were brought by special counsel David Weiss, a Trump appointee who has been overseeing the federal investigation into Biden.

Biden attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement that if his client’s “last name was anything other than Biden, the charges in Delaware, and now California, would not have been brought.” (Biden was indicted on federal gun charges in September.) 

Read the full story here.

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Biden family latest

  • The new charges against Hunter Biden are “the definition of a bait and switch,” an NBC News legal analyst said. Watch the full video.
  • Republicans have seized on Hunter Biden’s legal woes as rhetorical ammunition against his father. Yesterday, House Republicans unveiled a resolution to authorize a Joe Biden impeachment inquiry.

UNLV shooting suspect was ‘obsessed’ with Las Vegas

Las Vegas police identified Anthony Polito as the man behind a deadly shooting spree this week at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Little is known about his life leading up to the deadly shooting, but those who knew Polito during his time teaching at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, described him as an eccentric professor who spent a lot of time talking about Las Vegas.

“If you can imagine a college class where you just relive someone’s vacation, like, that was kind of his class,” a former student said. Other former students and faculty also described the impressions Polito left on them.

Polito mailed letters to 22 “various university personnel across the country” before the attack, police said yesterday. Police also said Polito had applied for multiple jobs within the Nevada higher education system but was denied every time.

Freed Hamas hostages return to destruction and pain

On the first night of Hanukkah, Irena Tati, her daughter Yelena On the first night of Hanukkah, Irena Tati, her daughter Yelena Trupanov and other residents of the Nir Oz kibbutz would be lighting candles. This year, there are few residents around. Tati and Trupanov were only freed from Hamas captivity in Gaza just over a week ago. Tati, who is 73, is thinking about the return of her grandson Sasha, still held by Hamas.

Nir Oz, which is less than 2 miles from the fenced-off border with Gaza, was one of the areas hit hardest when Hamas militants stormed through southern Israel two months ago. A small post office at the center of the kibbutz serves as a makeshift memorial and a powerful visual that shows who was killed, who was kidnapped and who has returned. Tati’s home is remarkably intact, but the houses to either side of hers have been reduced to ruins. Importantly to Tati, her cat, Gome, is still alive.

In Gaza, Israel’s military continues its assault above ground in pursuit of Hamas leaders and is considering a plan to flood the militant group’s vast labyrinth of tunnels, two US. officials said.

The United States has warned that Israel must “put a premium on civilian protection” while it battles Hamas. In rare criticism of its close ally, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “there does remain a gap between … the intent to protect civilians and the actual results that we’re seeing on the ground.” Follow our live blog for updates. 

Pregnant Texas woman reacts to judge’s decision in her emergency abortion request

A pregnant woman in Texas said she is “hopeful” after a judge granted an emergency order allowing her to get an abortion. Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two, filed a lawsuit late last month challenging the state’s abortion ban after finding out her developing fetus has trisomy 18, a rare chromosomal disorder that is likely to cause a stillbirth or death of the baby shortly after it’s born.

Texas law prohibits nearly all abortions, with very few exceptions. Lawyers for Cox argued that she was high-risk for complications and carrying this pregnancy to term would lower her chance of having more children in the future. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fired back with a threat, saying the ruling “will not insulate hospitals, doctors, or anyone else, from civil or criminal liability for violating Texas’ abortion laws.”

Black patients have hope and some hesitancy for new sickle cell treatment 

Time is almost up for the FDA to decide whether to approve a DNA-editing therapy for sickle cell disease, a debilitating blood disorder that affects at least 100,000 Americans, most of whom are Black. Receiving the treatment, called exa-cel, is an arduous process that requires months of blood transfusions, bone marrow extraction and chemotherapy. 

Both Black sickle cell patients and doctors are optimistic about the treatment, which would eliminate the need for bone marrow transplants to cure the disease. But that excitement is colliding with lingering feelings of distrust of the medical system in parts of the Black community.

NBC BLK reporter Claretta Bellamy spoke to sickle cell disease patients who describe “living in pain every day” and what they think of the new treatment

Today’s Talker: The new McDonald’s spinoff restaurant will have…

… lemonades, coffees and other drinks with customizable syrups, energy shots and fruity boba. Is your head spinning at all the possible combinations? That’s kind of the point. CosMc, the space-themed restaurant that’s set to open its first location this month, will have a menu “rooted in beverage exploration,” McDonald’s’ CEO said during this week’s investor day. And for those hungry for food options, they’ll have you covered.

Politics in Brief 

Foreign funding: A bipartisan group of senators resumed border talks yesterday and even discussed a new proposal, raising hopes that Congress can pass a broad legislative package that would include aid for Israel and Ukraine by the end of the year.  

Abortion pill fight: The Supreme Court is scheduled to discuss whether to take up a high-stakes legal fight that could result in a definitive decision on federal approval of the drug most commonly used for medication abortion. 

Trump trials: Donald Trump seemed happy with yesterday’s trial for a $250 million civil fraud lawsuit against him, after a witness testified there was nothing wrong with his financial statements. In his federal election case, the former president plans to appeal a ruling saying he doesn’t have immunity from prosecution.

Santos’ vacancy: New York Democrats selected former Rep. Tom Suozzi to be their party’s nominee in the upcoming special election to replace GOP Rep. George Santos. Republicans are expected to select their nominee early next week.

Staff Pick: What happened to Jane.com?

Imagine you had spent weeks getting your small business ready for Black Friday — buying supplies and getting everything ready to go. And then the site where you made almost all of your sales closed without warning. That’s what happened to hundreds of users of Jane.com. Legal documents filed on behalf of the company say they’re owed more than $10 million. Police are investigating, and sellers are wondering why everything fell apart. — Marley Jay, business reporter, and Kat Tenbarge, tech reporter

In Case You Missed It

Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

Whether you splurge on a fancy coffee maker, pick up some top-rated beans or opt for an accessory that will elevate a morning cup of joe, there are plenty of gifts for coffee lovers to consider at every price point. Pore over these 28 ideas, from quality coffee makers, to reusable cups and milk frothers.

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