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Coup, health scare and UFO talk: All the non-Hunter Biden news you might have missed

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Hunter Biden after a court appearance in Wilmington, Del.
Hunter Biden after a court appearance in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday. Julio Cortez / AP file

If it’s THURSDAY… President Biden speaks at 11:45 am ET on protecting communities from extreme heat and then meets with Italy’s prime minister… Donald Trump’s legal and political teams prepare for possible grand jury vote… Tim Scott holds a town hall in Ankeny, Iowa with Gov. Kim Reynolds… Ron DeSantis spends his day campaigning through Iowa… And Team DeSantis spars with Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., over the teaching of slavery’s history.

But FIRST... If you were solely paying attention to the twists and turns of Hunter Biden’s on-again, off-again plea deal, you missed a lot of other news that took place on Wednesday.

For starters, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to have a health scare, freezing during remarks at a Capitol Hill news conference then walking away. McConnell eventually returned to the news conference and said he was fine.

Yet afterward, NBC’s Garrett Haake and Sahil Kapur reported that McConnell had tripped earlier this month after disembarking an airplane, though he wasn’t hurt.

Also on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised its key interest to its highest level in more than 20 years. More importantly, Fed Chair Jerome Powell affirmed that the central bank no longer expects a recession to occur as a result of rate increases.

Then there was an attempted coup in Niger, with members of the nation’s presidential guard surrounding the presidential palace of its democratically elected leader and detaining him.

And then you had those the UFO hearings on Capitol Hill, where former military members told Congress that the government knows more about UFOs than it’s telling the public. One witness even talked about “nonhuman biologics” found at one alleged crash site.

Headline of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 22

That’s how many years it’s been since America’s key interest rate matched the one set by the Federal Reserve Wednesday, when it raised the rate by 0.25% to as much as 5.5%

While the Fed did not raise rates at its June meeting, it decided to slightly raise rates again with consumer prices still up 3% year over year.


Other numbers to know

14: How many days a federal judge stayed his ruling against a signature Biden immigration policy, delaying his decision blocking an administration rule on asylum from going into effect for two weeks as the Supreme Court may weigh in.  

$20,000: How much Nevada GOP Gov. Joe Lombardo was fined by the Nevada Commission on Ethics for using his Clark County Sheriff badge and uniform on the campaign trail in 2022, the Nevada Independent reports.

2,230: The number of migrants crossing the Southern border daily on average earlier this week, up from 790 early last month, NBC News’ Julia Ainsley reports.

100 million: The number of people in America who were under heat alerts starting Wednesday, which will span until Friday, as record high temperatures could be eclipsed in Arizona and Texas.  

30,000: The number of electric vehicle chargers seven carmakers will join together to build.  

5 years and 8 months: How long it’s been since Bowe Bergdahl was court-martialed for leaving his post in Afghanistan, a court-martial that was a federal judge voided Tuesday over concerns the initial judge did not disclose that he had been applying to become a federal immigration judge, Reuters reports. 

44%: The increase in children found working illegally in America since October, per new analysis from the Labor Department

Eyes on 2024: Getting schooled in Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ policies as governor continued to play out on the presidential campaign trail on Wednesday, with a clash over the state’s new Black history standards that underscored the governor’s minimal support from his home state’s congressional delegation. 

On Wednesday, GOP Rep. Byron Donalds (who has endorsed former President Donald Trump) wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that while the standards are “good, robust and accurate … the attempt to feature the personal benefits of slavery is wrong & needs to be adjusted.”

The comments sparked pushback from some DeSantis aides, with one writing, “Did Kamala Harris write this tweet?,” per NBC News’ Zoë Richards. Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller responded in a statement “The Congressman also calls it like he sees it, and if he thinks something is BS, he’ll tell you. That’s why we like him so much.”

The clash serves as a reminder that just one member of Florida’s congressional delegation — Rep. Laurel Lee, who served in DeSantis’ administration — has endorsed the governor’s presidential bid. But 12 Florida House members, which is a majority of the 20 GOP lawmakers from the state, have endorsed Trump.

In other campaign news…

About face: Trump filmed a video for the Republican National Committee promoting the party’s new early voting effort after spending years leading a campaign undercutting confidence in it (he previously called for Republicans to early vote earlier this year). 

The enemy of my enemy: Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis floated the idea of having Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. serve on the Food and Drug Administration or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if the Republican was elected president Kennedy has repeatedly spread conspiracy theories about vaccines over the years. 

“Abortion on demand”: Republicans running for the White House may not have concrete plans for how they’d set federal abortion policy if they’re elected, but they agree on one thing: painting Democrats’ position as too extreme, NBC News’ Alex Tabet, Sarah Dean and Nnamdi Egwuonwu report.

Chris Christie on Jan. 6: In an interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie referenced a video of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows not answering questions about whether he has testified before a grand jury about Jan. 6. “That looks to me like somebody who is cooperating with the federal government,” said Christie, a former prosecutor. 

Vivek the rapper: Politico reports on Republican businessman Vivek Ramaswamy’s time in undergrad at Harvard rapping as “Da Vek.” 

The field expands: Former Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter plans to join the Republican primary for Senate in Nevada, NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard reports. He’ll face Jim Marchant, a former candidate for Secretary of State, and Sam Brown, a retired Army Captain who also ran for Senate last year. Brown, who has been endorsed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, was spotted at the Capitol on Wednesday attending the Senate GOP’s luncheon, per NBC News’ Liz Brown-Kaiser.

Sanders has spoken: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. told NBC News’ Alex Seitz-Wald that he will endorse progressive former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg in the crowded Democratic primary for a special election to fill former Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline’s seat.

Bishop to King 7? The Dispatch reports that North Carolina Republican Rep. Dan Bishop is considering a bid for state attorney general this cycle

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world:

House lawmakers called for greater transparency from the federal government on unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP, after three former officials testified about their experiences with UAP.

Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday conceded that he had made false statements about two Georgia election workers who are suing him.