1/ The Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.” American athletes, however, are free to participate in the games. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, as well as human rights advocates, have called on the Biden administration to pressure Beijing over abuses against the Uyghur community (which has been declared a genocide both by Biden and the Trump administration), a crackdown on pro-democracy free speech protests in Hong Kong, China’s recent aggression toward Taiwan, pursuit of hypersonic weapons, and its secrecy surrounding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House is looking to send a “clear message” that the human rights abuses in China mean there cannot be “business as usual.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / CNBC)
2/ The Justice Department sued Texas over its plan to redraw congressional and state legislative voting districts, alleging that the Republican-led legislature’s redistricting plans disenfranchise minorities in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Texas’ redistricting plan “denies Black and Latino voters the equal opportunity to participate in the election process,” and was created “with discriminatory intent,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said. The suit claims Texas is “refusing to recognize the State’s growing minority electorate” and asks the court to stop the state from holding elections under the new maps and to redraw Texas’s congressional and state House districts for 2022. The Justice Department previously sued Texas, as well as Georgia, over laws limiting ballot access. (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / USA Today / CNBC)
3/ The metadata in a draft letter written by a Trump Justice Department official “indicates some involvement with the White House” in Trump’s failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election. In Dec. 2020, Jeffrey Clark drafted a letter to the Georgia governor and legislative leadership urging them to convene a special session of the legislature to investigate voter fraud claims. The metadata in the file indicates that the White House communications staff may have worked on the draft letter, which encouraged Georgia to appoint new electors who would overturn its election results and swing the presidential election to Trump. Clark had urged then-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue to sign the letter, saying: “I think we should get it out as soon as possible.” Rosen and Donoghue, however, refused to send it. Clark was scheduled for a deposition before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot on Saturday, but it was rescheduled for Dec. 16 because he has a “medical condition that precludes his participation.” Members of select committee, meanwhile, are pushing to rewrite the Electoral Count Act of 1887 – the law that Trump and his allies tried to use to overturn the 2020 election. Proposed reforms include clearer time limits for states to choose electors, limiting what a lawmaker can object to, and clarifying that the vice president’s role in the process is clerical and lacks the authority to unilaterally throw out a state’s votes, which Trump and his allies urged Pence to do. (Rolling Stone)
4/ Sidney Powell raised more than $14 million off of her baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Powell is currently being sued for $1.3 billion by Dominion Voting Systems for defamation over her claims that the company rigged the election against Trump. She’s also claimed that “no reasonable person” would believe that her false conspiracies about widespread election fraud were “statements of fact.” (Washington Post)
5/ Devin Nunes resigned from Congress to become CEO of Trump’s media company. The shell company taking Trump’s social media startup public, however, is currently under investigation by two federal regulators. The SEC is investigating the potential merger between Trump Media and Technology Group and the special purpose acquisition company Digital World Acquisition, which may have violated securities rules by failing to disclose discussions it was reportedly having before initially raising nearly $300 million. Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, will start in January. (CNBC / Politico / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Politico)
6/ The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been identified in at least 17 U.S. states since Dec. 1, when the the first case was reported in California. New York City, meanwhile, announced a coronavirus vaccine mandate for all private employers to combat the spread of Omicron. Mayor Bill de Blasio called the mandate a “pre-emptive strike” to slow another wave of cases and help reduce transmission during the winter months. And, since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Trump in the presidential election are nearly three times as likely to die from Covid-19 as those who live in areas that went for Biden. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR)
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