Day 119: "Legitimatizing a grift."
1/ House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will oppose a bipartisan deal to form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, saying the independent probe would be “duplicative” of federal law enforcement efforts and “potentially counterproductive.” The formation of a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission, which was negotiated by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, had been delayed for months, because Republicans insisted that the investigation be expanded to include violence by far-left protesters last summer. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “disappointing but not surprising” to see the “cowardice on the part of some on the Republican side” who do not “want to find the truth.” The Biden administration, meanwhile, issued a statement in support of the commission, saying: “The nation deserves such a full and fair accounting to prevent future violence and strengthen the security and resilience of our democratic institutions.” (Axios / Wall Street Journal / CNN / CNBC / ABC News / Politico)
2/ The Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors called on the GOP-led state Senate to end the recount of the 2020 election, saying the audit is a “sham” and a “con.” After Trump’s false allegations that fraud cost him the 2020 election, state Senate President Karen Fann used the Senate’s subpoena power to take possession of ballots and voting machines from Maricopa County. Fann then hired Cyber Ninjas, a firm owned by a Trump supporter who has promoted election conspiracies, to conduct an audit. Fann claims that Cyber Ninjas identified “serious problems” with the recount. The county’s five supervisors called the audit a “spectacle that is harming all of us,” with Board Chairman Jack Sellers accusing Fann of making an “attempt at legitimatizing a grift disguised as an audit.” (Washington Post / Associated Press)
3/ The House passed legislation to address hate crimes directed at Asian-Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic. The legislation directs the Justice Department to expedite the review of Covid-related hate crimes, especially those targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, encourages the creation of state-run hate crime hotlines, and provides grants to law enforcement agencies to train officers to identify hate crimes. The vote was 364-62, with only Republicans in opposition. The measure now heads to the White House for Biden’s signature. (NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)
4/ Researchers have found that climate change caused an estimated $8 billion in excess flooding damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and affected an additional 70,000 people. Sea levels at the tip of Manhattan have risen about 8 inches since 1950, according to NOAA, and water levels could rise by more than a foot in New York City by midcentury, compared with the year 2000. Superstorm Sandy caused an estimated $70 billion in total damages, mostly from flooding, due to human-induced sea-level rise. (NPR)
5/ Trump’s Justice Department used a secret grand jury subpoena in an attempt to identify the person behind a Twitter account dedicated to mocking Rep. Devin Nunes. The California Republican also attempted to sue the owners of two parody accounts, one pretending to be his cow and the other his mother, and Twitter itself in 2019, claiming that the nameless critics had tried to “intimidate” him and “intended to generate and proliferate false and defamatory statements.” Twitter fought the subpoena and questioned whether the Justice Department might be abusing federal criminal law enforcement power to retaliate against a critic of a close ally of Trump. The DOJ request was later withdrawn after Biden took office. The person who operates the @NunesAlt account, meanwhile tweeted “why am I being sued by a US congressman? Why would the DOJ ever target me? Is it the mean tweets and bad memes?” (New York Times / Washington Post)
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