1/ The U.S. reported an average of about 14,500 daily coronavirus cases over the past week with about 960,000 vaccinations administered each day. While more than half of Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, less than a quarter of Black Americans have received their first shot. 42% of Americans overall are fully vaccinated. (CNBC / Politico)
2/ Joe Manchin vowed to block the federal election reform bill. “I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act,” Manchin wrote in an op-ed. “Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.” The House approved the For the People Act in March with no Republican support. In the Senate, the bill would require at least 10 GOP votes or require elimination of the filibuster to be passed. Later, in a Fox News interview, Manchin called voting reform bill – which would require states to offer at least 15 days of early voting, universal access to mail-in voting, same-day registration for federal races, and make Election Day a national holiday – “the wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together and unite our country, and I’m not supporting that, because I think it would divide us more. I don’t want to be in a country that’s divided any further.” A national security adviser, meanwhile, called protecting the rights of Americans to vote is a national security issue, saying “we are not updating, refurbishing, revamping our own democratic processes and procedures to meet the needs of the modern moment.” (Politico / Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / Axios / CNBC / Washington Post)
3/ Trump’s chief of staff repeatedly pushed the Justice Department to investigate unfounded conspiracy theories about election fraud. In five emails sent during the last week of December and early January, Mark Meadows asked Jeffrey Rosen, then the acting attorney general, to examine debunked claims of election fraud and baseless conspiracies. Rosen declined to open the investigations. (New York Times)
4/ Rep. Mo Brooks was finally served a lawsuit alleging that he and other pro-Trump allies were partially accountable for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. According to court filings, Rep. Eric Swalwell’s legal team had been trying since March to serve Brooks and had hired a private investigator to serve the suit. (CNN / Axios)
5/ The Justice Department imposed a gag order on New York Times executives over an attempt to obtain four NYT reporters’ email logs from Google, which operates the Times’s email system. Google resisted the effort to obtain the information, and the secret legal battle, which began during the Trump administration and continued under Biden, was ultimately unsuccessful. A federal court lifted the gag order on Friday, which had been in effect since March 3. The disclosure came two days after the Biden Justice Department notified the four reporters that the Trump administration in 2020 had secretly seized their phone records from early 2017. The Biden administration, meanwhile, disavowed any knowledge that the Justice Department tried to seize the email data of four New York Times reporters and had obtained a gag order. (New York Times)
6/ The Justice Department said it would no longer secretly obtain reporters’ records during government leak investigations. In a statement, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said that “in a change to its longstanding practice,” the department “will not seek compulsory legal process in leak investigations to obtain source information from members of the news media doing their jobs.” The reversal follows the recent disclosures that the Trump Justice Department had used court orders to obtain phone and email records for reporters at the Washington Post, CNN, and the New York Times. (Associated Press / Politico / Wall Street Journal)
7/ The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that thousands of immigrants living in the U.S. for humanitarian reasons are not eligible to apply to become permanent residents. The decision is a setback for as many as 400,000 immigrants in the U.S. who have Temporary Protected Status from deportation because of unsafe conditions in their home countries. The House, meanwhile, has already has passed legislation that would make it possible for TPS recipients to become permanent residents. The bill, however, faces uncertain prospects in the Senate. (Associated Press / Washington Post / ABC News / CNN)
8/ Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide hit levels not seen in more than 4 million years. According to scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and NOAA, atmospheric carbon dioxide peaked in May 2020, reaching a monthly average of nearly 419 parts per million – the highest levels in human history. In 2021, daily levels recorded have twice exceeded 420 parts per million. Despite the sharp decrease in global greenhouse gas emissions early in the pandemic, NOAA said there was “no discernible impact” on the rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (Axios / Washington Post / USA Today)
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