Day 129: "Short-term political gain."
1/ Senate Republicans blocked the creation of an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, using their filibuster power in the Senate for the first time during Biden’s presidency. The vote was 54 in favor, 35 against, and 11 senators not voting — short of the 60 needed to proceed. Six Republicans voted in favor of proceeding with the legislation. Prior to the vote, McConnell reportedly asked his Republican Senate colleagues to filibuster the bill as “a personal favor” to him, dismissing the proposed commission – modeled after the 9/11 Commission – as a “purely political exercise.” Sen. Joe Manchin said there were “an awful lot of other Republicans that would have supported” the commission “if it hadn’t been for [McConnell’s] intervention,” guessing that “13 or 14” GOP senators might have voted for the bill. Manchin, however, reaffirmed that he would not reconsider his opposition to getting rid of the filibuster. Sen. Lisa Murkowski also took aim at McConnell over his opposition to the commission, saying: “To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us on Jan. 6, I think we need to look at that critically. Is that really what this is about, one election cycle after another?” (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / Axios / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)
2/ Senate Republicans delayed passage of a $195 billion bipartisan bill aimed at countering China’s global economic and political influence. A small group of conservative senators complained they didn’t have time to review the more than 2,400 pages of the American Innovation and Competition Act. The vote was postponed until June 8, when senators return from a weeklong Memorial Day recess. (New York Times / Associated Press / CBS News)
3/ The Biden administration defended a Trump-era oil and gas project in Alaska. The administration declined to explain how its position on the multibillion-dollar plan from ConocoPhillips to drill in part of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska aligns with Biden’s pledge to cut U.S. emissions in half by 2030, replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, and enhance protections for public lands and waters. The Arctic, meanwhile, is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet due to climate change. ConocoPhillips plans to install “chillers” to refreeze the thawing permafrost to ensure it’s stable enough to support the equipment needed to drill for oil, which will likely accelerate climate change when burned and the further melting of the permafrost. The project was pushed by Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a centrist Republican seen as a potential administration ally in the evenly split Senate. (New York Times / Politico / The Guardian)
4/ Biden ordered the 90-day review into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic after intelligence officials told the White House they had unexamined evidence that required additional analysis. Officials declined to describe the evidence, but they’re reportedly “hoping to apply an extraordinary amount of computer power to the question of whether the virus accidentally leaked from a Chinese laboratory.” (New York Times)
5/ Hackers linked to Russian intelligence hacked the email system used by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Once compromised, hackers sent USAID-like emails to more than 3,000 accounts across more than 150 organizations with code that gave hackers access to the computer systems of the recipients, from “stealing data to infecting other computers on a network.” Those emails went out as recently as this week, and Microsoft, which identified the Russian group behind the attack as Nobelium, said it believes the attacks are ongoing. Microsoft also said it was the same group responsible for the SolarWinds hack, which breached at least seven government agencies and hundreds of large American companies. (New York Times)
6/ Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Ukrainian officials attempted to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, including using Rudy Giuliani to spread misleading claims about Biden to help Trump. The FBI and Brooklyn prosecutors are focused on current and former Ukrainian officials suspected of trying to influence the election by spreading unsubstantiated claims of corruption about Biden through several channels. The inquiry began during the final months of the Trump administration. Giuliani’s dealings with Ukrainian oligarchs while working as Trump’s lawyer are also the subject of an investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Federal agents seized Giuliani’s phone and computers while executive a search warrant in April. (New York Times)
7/ A federal judge appointed a so-called “special master” to review material seized from Rudy Giuliani and another lawyer through a search warrant. The special master will review files on electronic devices seized from Giuliani and Victoria Toensing for material that is potentially privileged. U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken also denied a series of requests by Giuliani and Toensing to return the trove of digital information the FBI seized as part of the investigation into potential violations of laws on lobbying for foreign entities. (Politico / ABC News / CNBC)
poll/ 73% of Republicans blame “left-wing protesters trying to make Trump look bad” for the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. 23% of Republicans, however, say Trump bears “some” or “a great deal” of the blame for the riot that left several people dead and more than 140 injured. (Yahoo News)
poll/ 23% of Republicans agree that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation,” 28% agree that “there is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders,” and 28% agree that “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” Among all Americans, fewer than 20% agree with those statements. (PRRI / CNN)
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