Brian Hook. Photo: Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Iran envoy Brian Hook said at a press conference Thursday that the Iranian government "could have murdered over 1,000 Iranian citizens" during a crackdown on protests in recent weeks, calling it "the worst political crisis the regime has faced in its 40 years."

Why it matters: While the Iranian government appears to have carried out its deadliest crackdown since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Hook's number is far higher than most other credible estimates. Amnesty International has confirmed 208 deaths.

The big picture: The protests began several weeks ago after the Iranian government hiked gas prices by 50%, prompting anti-regime demonstrators to take to the streets within 72 hours.

  • Hook confirmed a New York Times report that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps opened fire on unarmed protestors in the southwest city of Mahshahr, claiming that videos received by the State Department show as many as 100 Iranians were murdered and loaded into trucks.
  • He added that "many thousands" of protestors have been injured and at least 7,000 have been detained. Hook said that two prisons to which many of the protestors have been taken "meet the criteria for gross human rights violations."
  • President Hassan Rouhani has called for many of the protesters to be freed, though it's unclear whether and when that will happen.

Go deeper: Iranian government meets growing protests with harsher crackdown

Go deeper

Biden on Supreme Court fight: "This is about whether or not the ACA will exist"

Joe Biden made health care the overwhelming focus of his remarks from Wilmington, Delaware, on Sunday, stressing that the Senate confirmation battle over Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court is about preserving the Affordable Care Act in the midst of a pandemic.

Why it matters: Democrats are aggressively pushing the message that Barrett, who has previously criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for his 2012 ruling salvaging the ACA, will seek to invalidate the law when the Supreme Court hears a Trump administration-backed lawsuit against it on Nov. 10.

McMaster: Trump's peaceful transition comments are a "gift to our adversaries"

President Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November's presidential election is a "gift to our adversaries," Trump's former national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday.

The big picture: McMaster, a retired three-star general, said that the American people must understand that the military will have "no role" in a presidential transition and that it's "irresponsible" to even talk about it as a possibility.

Trump says Supreme Court ending Obamacare would be "a big WIN"

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

President Trump on Sunday tweeted that the Supreme Court invalidating the Affordable Care Act would be "a big WIN for the USA!"

Why it matters: Democrats have argued that confirming a Trump-appointed justice to the Supreme Court would put the Affordable Care Act, which protects pre-existing conditions, in jeopardy. Trump's Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett, has written that she disagreed with Chief Justice John Roberts when he ruled to uphold the law.