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Morning Rundown: 'Trump Bucks' websites, Pentagon leaders cancel drag show and the rise of 'nature's Ozempic'

The companies that appear to have swindled supporters of former President Donald Trump by peddling bogus “Trump Bucks” no longer have active websites.
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The debt ceiling deal advances to the Senate. Websites selling "Trump Bucks" are taken down after an NBC News investigation. And scientists suggest your brain's shape may influence more than previously thought.

Here’s what to know today.

How the debt ceiling deal got done

With overwhelming bipartisan support, the House voted last night to pass the debt ceiling legislation negotiated by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden, sending it to the Senate with days to spare before a potentially disastrous default. (The deadline is Monday.)

The vote was 314 to 117, with 149 Republicans joining 165 Democrats.

Right up until the end, the White House was exploring contingency plans in case the high-stakes talks collapsed. One consideration was to bypass Congress altogether and invoke the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, an idea that Biden took seriously, people familiar with the matter said. 

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But that option wouldn’t be needed. Last night’s bill passage was a feat months in the making, seemingly starting when Biden refused to meet with McCarthy, and evolving into the two hashing out a deal over Memorial Day weekend.

Based on interviews with more than two dozen lawmakers, outside advisers and congressional and White House aides, NBC News’ politics team pieced together the fevered negotiations that took place as the nation careened toward default. It involves gumbo, a bike ride and a plea from a representative who has largely stepped away from the spotlight.

More coverage about the debt ceiling deal

  • McCarthy and his allies are taking a victory lap as he defies his naysayers — again .

Some ‘Trump Bucks’ websites taken down 

The companies that appear to have swindled supporters of former President Donald Trump out of tens of thousands of dollars by peddling bogus “Trump Bucks” no longer have active websites. The development comes days after the businesses were exposed by NBC News. 

“Trump Bucks” promised to make its users rich. For example, an ad claimed that a “$10,000 Diamond Trump Bucks” bill could be purchased for $99.99 and cashed in for $10,000 at some major banks and retailers. The companies mentioned in the ad denied any involvement.

Upon learning some of the websites were no longer active, two people affected by the apparent scheme expressed relief. “Awesome,” a 75-year-old woman said.

Pentagon cancels drag show at Air Force base

A drag show that was supposed to take place today at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada is canceled after Defense Department leaders stepped in to stop it, according to two defense officials and a U.S. official. The show was approved by Air Force leaders, but when Gen. Mark Milley found out about the Pride Month event, he stepped in. Conservative politicians and pundits argue the military should not be spending taxpayer money on drag shows.

‘That ‘70s Show’ star Danny Masterson found guilty of rape

Actor Danny Masterson was convicted yesterday on two counts of rape at his retrial in Los Angeles, six months after his first trial ended in a mistrial. The Associated Press reported that the seven-woman, five-man jury could not reach a verdict on a third rape count after deliberating for over a week.

 After the verdict, Masterson was led from the courtroom in handcuffs as his family and friends sat in stunned silence. A sentencing is set for Aug. 4, and he faces up to 30 years in prison.

What to know about ‘nature’s Ozempic’

As weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy gain popularity, a supplement is also gaining momentum on social media. Users say berberine helps curb appetite and improve blood sugar levels, resulting in weight loss. While Ozempic and Wegovy are in short supply and can cost $1,000 or more out of pocket, berberine appears to be widely available online, is much cheaper and doesn’t require a prescription. 

Experts say there are a lot of unknowns about berberine’s side effects and safety, but they have some recommendations for those considering taking it.

Police video shows car rocketing off tow truck

A driver was seriously injured last week after her car “vaulted” off a tow truck ramp on a Georgia highway in a dramatic crash captured on a police officer’s body camera. A crash report says the car vaulted about 120 feet before it struck another car on the highway. Watch the full video.

▼ Today’s Talker

The shape of your brain may strongly influence…

… how you think, feel and behave, a new study suggests. Scientists had long surmised that billions of interconnected neurons influenced humans’ thoughts, feelings and behaviors, but this study suggests the brain’s size, curves and grooves exert a greater influence than those neurons. But depending on who you ask, the brain shape hypothesis may be considered “controversial.”

▼ Politics in Brief

Conservative canvassing: The large-scale voter contact effort that conservatives have put at the center of their political operations is deeply flawed, insiders say. Allan Smith closely examines the apparent issues.

2024 election: Former Vice President Mike Pence plans to enter the Republican presidential nomination fray next week, according to a person familiar with his launch schedule.

War in Ukraine: The Pentagon is blocking efforts by the U.S. government to share evidence of possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine. 

▼ Staff Pick

War at Moscow’s doorstep

This week’s drone attack on residential areas in Moscow could mark a watershed moment. The war in Ukraine has been a distant prospect for millions of Muscovites, who have been shielded from the human toll of the invasion. But now, hearing from people going about their days under the shadow of a drone-struck apartment block, we can see how that sense of security has been unsettled despite the Kremlin’s nothing-to-see-here response. - Annie Hill, Platforms Editor

▼ In Case You Missed It

 Former and recent tenants of the historic Iowa apartment building that partially collapsed say their complaints have been ignored for years.

Bruce Willis’ daughter Tallulah reveals the first signs the actor had dementia. 

Three NY teens have been arrested after they allegedly stole a swan prized by its community before killing and eating the beloved bird.

Hundreds of people are flocking to a small Missouri town to see a nun whose body has barely decomposed since 2019.

The teen birthrate in the U.S. reached another record low, the CDC said in a new report. 

▼ Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

 Our Select team connected with AAPI-owned businesses and spoke to owners about their challenges and triumphs. Here are more than 100 business to support in 2023 and some of the team’s favorite items to shop, like pizza oil, snack boxes, Vietnamese coffee, skin care products and more.

Thanks for reading today’s Morning Rundown. Today’s newsletter was curated for you by Elizabeth Robinson. If you’re a fan, please send a link to your family and friends. They can sign-up here.