Day 108: "We have a long way to go."
1/ The U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in April – short of the one million that economists had forecast and a sharp drop-off from the 770,000 jobs added in March. The April unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.1%. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce blamed the weaker-than-expected jobs report on the $300-per-week federal jobless benefit. Biden, however, argued that the disappointing employment numbers are evidence that Congress should pass his $4 trillion infrastructure and jobs package, saying: “Today’s report just underscores, in my view, how vital the actions we’re taking are – checks to people who are hurting, support for small businesses, for child care and school reopening, support to help families put food on the table.” Biden added: “Today there is more evidence our economy is moving in the right direction, but it is clear we have a long way to go.” (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC / ABC News / Axios / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)
2/ Texas legislators approved new, more restrictive state election rules. The bill would make it a felony to provide voters with an application to vote by mail if they hadn’t requested one, empower partisan poll workers, and limit extended early voting hours. The House version of the bill differs significantly from the state Senate version and will go to a conference committee to resolve the differences. The vote in the Texas House came after Florida enacted its own restrictive voting laws. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the legislation live on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” which restricts voting by mail and at drop boxes. (NPR / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)
3/ The Justice Department filed federal criminal charges against Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers in connection with the death of George Floyd. The federal indictment accuses Chauvin – who was recently convicted on state charges of murder and manslaughter, and is now asking for a new trial – of depriving Floyd of his rights to be protected from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer when Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. The other three ex-officers are accused of letting Floyd die by “willfully” failing to stop Chauvin when they saw Floyd “lying on the ground in clear need of medical care.” Separately, Chauvin was charged in another federal indictment with violating the civil rights of a 14-year-old Minneapolis boy during a September 2017 arrest by holding the boy by the neck and hitting him multiple times in the head with a flashlight “without legal justification.” (Associated Press / NPR / Washington Post / CNBC)
4/ The Federal Election Commission dropped the hush-money case looking into whether Trump violated election law when he directed Michael Cohen to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election. The payment was never reported on Trump’s campaign filings. Cohen, however, was sentenced to prison for breaking campaign finance laws, tax evasion, and lying to Congress. Trump, meanwhile, thanked the FEC for dropping what he called “the phony case against me concerning payments to women relative to the 2016 presidential election.” (New York Times)
5/ The top respiratory disease official at the CDC resigned. Dr. Nancy Messonnier was the first U.S. official to warn about the severity of the coronavirus pandemic last year, saying “It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen,” and that cities and towns should plan for “social distancing measures.” Trump threatened to fire Messonnier shortly after her warning, leading to the halt of regular CDC press briefings about the pandemic. Dr. Messonnier’s resignation is effective May 14. She will become an executive director at a philanthropical organization based in California. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Politico)
6/ Trump’s Justice Department secretly obtained the phone records of three Washington Post journalists over reporting during the early months of the Trump administration about Russia’s role in the 2016 election. The Justice Department also tried to obtain their email records. A Justice Department spokesman said the approval of subpoenas to get records of reporters happened in 2020. William Barr served as Trump’s attorney general for nearly all of 2020, before departing Dec. 23. The subpoenas, however, covered the period from April 15, 2017 to July 31, 2017. The three reporters – Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller, and Adam Entous – wrote a July 21, 2017, story detailing how Jeff Sessions had discussed the Trump campaign with the Russian ambassador while serving as Trump’s foreign policy adviser. In early August 2017, Sessions issued a warning that the “culture of leaking must stop.” (Washington Post)
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