Hot off the Wire: Listen to today’s top stories

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection will hear from former Justice Department officials who faced down a relentless pressure campaign from then-President Donald Trump over the 2020 election results.

The officials are also expected to testify about a bizarre challenge from within their own ranks. Thursday’s hearing will bring focus to a memorably turbulent stretch at the department as the Republican president sought to bend to his will a law enforcement agency that has long cherished its independence.

The testimony aims to show how Trump tried to leverage the authorities of federal executive branch agencies in pursuing his false claims of election fraud.

Millions of Americans who rely on their cars for work are changing their habits, signing up for carpools or even ditching their cars for bicycles as gas prices recently hit $5 per gallon for the first time ever.

This week, it’s averaging $4.95 per gallon nationwide, up from $3.06 per gallon a year ago, according to AAA. Some help could be on the way. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden asked Congress to suspend federal gas taxes for three months, which would shave 18.4 cents per gallon off the price of gas.

He also called on states to suspend their own gas taxes. But in the meantime, gas is straining budgets.

Asked about prospects for a political settlement following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday that “it’s possible after Ukraine meets all the Russian demands,” adding that “Ukraine knows perfectly well what they are.”

Authorities say six people were killed in a helicopter crash in West Virginia. The Vietnam-era helicopter was used for tourism flights and crashed near Route 17 in Logan County at about 5 p.m. Wednesday.

A California man who was arrested near Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home in Maryland earlier this month has pleaded not guilty to trying to kill Kavanaugh. Nicholas John Roske remains in custody after his arraignment Wednesday on one count of attempting to assassinate a Supreme Court justice.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jaylon Ferguson has died at age 26. Police said the cause of death is still to be determined but that no foul play is suspected at this time. Ferguson played three NFL seasons.

The Uvalde school district’s police chief has been put on leave following allegations that he erred in his response to a mass shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead. Superintendent Hal Harrell said Wednesday that he put schools police Chief Pete Arredondo on administrative leave. Arredondo has faced criticism for his role as commander in charge of the response to the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

In sports news, the Avalanche are a win away from their first Stanley Cup in 21 years, the Astros and Red Sox complete sweeps and a Ravens favorite has died. 

A former West Virginia lawmaker who livestreamed himself on Facebook storming the U.S. Capitol and cheering on what he described as a “revolution” has been sentenced to three months in prison. Derrick Evans, 37, who pleaded guilty to a felony civil disorder charge, told the judge on Wednesday that he takes full responsibility for his actions and “was caught up in a moment.”

President Joe Biden is calling on Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months — an election-year move meant to ease financial pressures.

But it’s not clear Biden has the votes to suspend the taxes. Many lawmakers in his own party have expressed reservations. Biden says he knows the move wouldn’t reduce “all the pain but it will be a big help.” If the gas tax savings were fully passed along to consumers, people would save roughly 3.6% at the pump.

Prices average about $5 a gallon nationwide. Biden also wants states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell sought to reassure the public that the Fed will raise interest rates high and fast enough to quell inflation, without tightening credit so much as to throttle the economy and cause a recession.

Testifying to the Senate Banking Committee, Powell faced skeptical questions about the Fed’s ability to tame inflation, which has surged to the top of Americans’ concerns as congressional elections near. Democrats wondered whether the Fed’s accelerated rate hikes will succeed in curbing inflation or might instead just tip the economy into a downturn.

Several Republicans charged that the Powell Fed had moved too slowly to begin raising rates and now must speed up its hikes.

San Francisco police say one man was killed and another was wounded in a shooting on a crowded subway train. 

Republican legislators in Wisconsin quickly adjourned a special session that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called to repeal the state’s dormant abortion ban without taking any action. Evers called the Legislature into special session Wednesday to repeal the ban as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule in a case that could end Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion across the nation.

Throngs of tourists have gleefully returned to watch geysers erupt and bison cross roads at Yellowstone National Park as it partially reopens following destructive floods. Park managers raised the gates Wednesday at three of Yellowstone’s five entrances for the first time since June 13.

Afghanistan’s state-run news agency reported a powerful earthquake struck a rural, mountainous region of the country’s east, killing 1,000 people and injuring 1,500 more. Wednesday’s quake was the country’s deadliest in two decades. Officials warned that the already grim toll may still rise. Information remained scarce on the magnitude 6.1 earthquake near the Pakistani border.

A federal judge has agreed to postpone a trial for the former leader of the Proud Boys and other members of the far-right extremist group charged with attacking the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly agreed Wednesday to move the start of a trial from Aug. 8 to Dec. 12 for former Proud Boys national chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four other men charged with seditious conspiracy.

Harassment and violence have become common outside abortion clinics over the decades since the 1973 ruling legalizing abortion. Now providers and some in law enforcement are preparing for an increase in violence once the Supreme Court rules in a case that could end Roe v. Wade.

They anticipate protests, harassment and other violence will increase in states where abortion remains legal. The National Abortion Federation and the hundreds of abortion clinics it represents have been on “heightened alert” since the opinion leaked.

Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes slowed for the fourth consecutive month in May as climbing mortgage rates and prices discouraged many would-be buyers. The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday that existing home sales fell 3.4% last month from April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.41 million. The national median home price jumped 14.8% in May from a year earlier to $407,600, an all-time high. 

James Rado, co-creator of the groundbreaking hippie musical “Hair,” which celebrated protest, pot and free love and paved the way for the sound of rock on Broadway, has died. He was 90. Friend and publicist Merle Frimark says Rado died Tuesday night in New York City of cardio respiratory arrest.

“Hair,” which has story and lyrics by Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot, was the first rock musical on Broadway, the first Broadway show to feature full nudity and the first to feature a same-sex kiss. “Hair” made possible other rock musicals like “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Rent.”