2022 will go down as one of the strangest years in recent history.
The omicron variant of COVID-19 continued to surge through the U.S. for most of the year, Russia invaded Ukraine, the Supreme Court overturned the right to an abortion and the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time in four years amid persistent inflation.
At the same time, the Supreme Court welcomed the first Black woman to its bench, Amazon warehouse workers joined a union for the first time, NASA and U.S. scientists expanded our imagination for the future and the House Jan. 6 committee dug deep into the U.S. Capitol insurrection with polished videos and testimony.
Though there were a million important stories, a handful will be remembered for defining 2022 in the U.S. Catch up on those stories below in NewsBreak's 2022 National Year-End Review.
Apple becomes the first trillion-dollar company
- Jan. 3: 2022 started off great for Apple Inc: The iPhone maker became the first company to surpass a $3 trillion valuation.
New Covid cases skyrocket as omicron spreads
- Jan. 3: The U.S. reported 1 million new daily COVID-19 infections for the first time, with many cases driven by the new omicron variant.
Russia invades Ukraine
- Feb. 24: Russia invaded Ukraine, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths — the exact number is still unclear — and the worst refugee crisis since WWII. The move put more pressure on strained global supply chains, sent the price of oil skyrocketing and hit the U.S. stock market hard. Ten months later, the war is still ongoing.
First Capitol riot trial results in conviction
- March 8: Far-right militia group member Guy Wesley Reffitt, 49, of Texas was found guilty of five criminal charges in connection to the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, the first such conviction after the attack.
The Fed increases interest rates for 1st time in 4 years
- March 16:The Federal Reserve announced a 0.25 percentage point rate hike, the first increase since December 2018, to try to bring rapid inflation under control. The rate hike was the first of seven for 2022.
Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the Oscars
- March 27: Oscars host Chris Rock was slapped by Will Smith on stage during the live broadcast of the Academy Awards. The comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith. Later, Smith won for best actor in “King Richard.”
Amazon workers vote to unionize in a 1st for the company
- April 1: It was a foolish day to make history, but this was no joke: Amazon workers at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island, New York, voted to join the Amazon Labor Union, making them the first such workers to unionize in the U.S. The successful unionization vote would inspire other warehouses to organize with mixed results.
Ketanji Brown Jackson becomes first Black woman on the Supreme Court
- April 7: The Senate voted 53–47 to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson as an associate justice to the Supreme Court. She was sworn in and took her seat on June 30 when Associate Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement took effect. She is the first Black woman to join the Supreme Court.
Draft of decision to overturn Roe is leaked
- May 2: Politico leaked a draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, negating the constitutional right to an abortion in the U.S. The leaked opinion prompted nationwide protests and an investigation at the Supreme Court to discover the source of the leak.
Gunman kills 10 in mass shooting at Buffalo grocery store
- May 4: In a racially motivated attack, a gunman shot and killed 10 people at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket. All the victims were Black. The gunman told officials he was deliberately targeting a Black community.
U.S. records 1M Covid deaths
- May 16: The U.S. officially surpassed 1 million deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mass shooting at Uvalde elementary school leaves 21 dead
- May 24: Nineteen children and two adults were killed in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The 18-year-old gunman, a former student, was killed during a shootout with police.
Jan 6 committee holds its first hearing
- June 6: The bipartisan House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection held its first public hearing. The committee would hold a total of 10 hearings throughout 2022, detailing all aspects of the attack, including the context that led up to it, the major players involved and the aftermath.
Supreme Court officially overturns right to abortion
- June 24: In Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the Supreme Court followed through on its leaked opinion and issued a decision to overturn the two court cases establishing a right to abortion in the U.S. The decision was met with protests across the country.
Federal judge sentences Ghislaine Maxwell for Epstein-related sex crimes
- June 28: Ghislaine Maxwell, who was found guilty of trafficking underage girls for convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Federal judge sentences Derek Chauvin to 21 years in prison
- July 7: Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison for using excessive force and violating George Floyd’s civil rights, resulting in Floyd’s death. The death of Floyd in May 2020 sparked a wave of protests across the country.
NASA reveals epic new telescope images
- July 11: NASA released the first mind-blowing images from the James Webb Space Telescope, the main successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.
U.S. kills al-Qaeda leader in drone strike
- Aug. 1: U.S. officials announced the death of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, who was killed by the CIA in a drone strike in Afghanistan.
Russia convicts WNBA player Brittney Griner for cannabis possession
- Aug. 4: A Russian court found WNBA star Brittney Griner guilty on drug charges and sentenced her to nine years in prison. On Dec. 8, the U.S. traded notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner’s freedom.
FBI raids Mar-a-Lago
- Aug. 8: The FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida home of former President Donald Trump. The agency was looking for classified documents that were allegedly in Trump’s possession. The warrant unsealed days later revealed that Trump had allegedly stored highly classified information on nuclear weapons, which would violate the Espionage Act of 1917.
CDC backs off strict COVID-19 guidelines
- Aug. 11: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened its guidelines for COVID-19, saying the pandemic was not over but that the virus “no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”
Biden commits U.S. to fighting climate change
- Aug. 16: President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 into law. Notably, the law featured multiple planks intended to fight climate change, including billions for nuclear power, electric vehicle incentives, advanced clean energy manufacturing and environmental protection.
Biden cancels millions in student loan debt
- Aug. 24: Biden announced a plan to cancel chunks of student loan debt for over 40 million eligible borrowers. As of 2022, the plan has not been implemented amid court challenges; the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge on the plan in Feb. 2023.
Biden calls out MAGA movement as existential threat to nation
- Sept. 1: In his “Battle for the Soul of the Nation” speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Biden criticized Trump and his Make America Great Again supporters, saying they “represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic."
Queen Elizabeth II dies after longest reign of any British monarch
- Sept. 8: Queen Elizabeth II died at 96 after a 70-year reign and her son, Prince Charles, ascended the British throne as King Charles III.
Hurricane Ian devastates Florida and Southeast U.S.
- Sept. 28: Hurricane Ian struck Florida as a Category 4 storm, with peak wind speeds reaching 155 mph. The storm killed more than 150 people and caused over $50 billion in damages.
Biden pardons all federal simple marijuana convictions
- Oct. 6: Biden issued a presidential proclamation that pardoned all people with federal convictions for simple marijuana possession crimes.
FBI arrests Michigan coup plotters
- Oct. 7: More than a dozen people were arrested for their alleged role in a plot in to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the state government.
Elon Musk buys Twitter for $44B
- Oct. 27: Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, completed his $44 billion acquisition of social media company Twitter. In one notable change, he allowed Trump back on the platform after Trump was banned for his role over the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Florida school shooter faces life in prison
- Nov. 2: Nikolas Cruz, the gunman in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 and injured 17 others, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Crypto platform FTX collapses
- Nov. 11: Cryptocurrency platform FTX, one of the largest in the U.S., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after its collapse, which left tens of thousands of users unable to withdraw their funds. Sam Bankman-Fried, who resigned as CEO in the aftermath, was indicted on Dec. 13 on multiple counts of fraud.
Trump announces 2024 presidential run
- Nov. 15: Trump announced he was running for president in the 2024 election.
Federal judge sentences Elizabeth Holmes to 135 months in prison
- Nov. 18: Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO of blood-testing company Theranos, was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for fraud after her conviction earlier in 2022. A few weeks later, the former chief operating officer of the company, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, was sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison on similar charges.
Gunman kills five at LGBTQ+ club in mass shooting
- Nov. 19: A mass shooting at the Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs leaves five dead and 25 injured. On Dec. 6, the suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, was charged with over 300 criminal counts, including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, assault and hate crimes.
Federal jury convicts Jan. 6 plotter Stewart Rhodes of sedition
- Nov. 29: Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right anti-government militia Oath Keepers, was found guilty of seditious conspiracy for his organizational role in storming the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Trump Organization is guilty of tax fraud
- Dec. 6: Two subsidiaries of the Trump Organization, the holding company for Trump’s businesses, are convicted on 17 criminal counts, including tax fraud and falsifying business records.
U.S. scientists achieve net positive nuclear fusion reaction
- Dec: 13: In a groundbreaking first, the Department of Energy announced that U.S. scientists achieved the first nuclear fusion reaction that produced more energy than it required to begin.
Biden signs law protecting same-sex and interracial marriages
- Dec. 13: Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act, which requires the federal government and all 50 states and territories to recognize same-sex and interracial civil marriages as legal.
Jan. 6 committee says Trump should be prosecuted
- Dec. 19: The Jan. 6 committee held its 10th and final public hearing and referred Trump for prosecution to the Justice Department.
Congress releases Trump’s tax returns
- Dec. 20: The House Ways and Means Committee voted to publicly release six years of Trump’s tax returns after a years-long legal battle by Trump to prevent the committee from receiving them.