1/ The CDC’s independent vaccine advisory committee recommended booster doses of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for 12- to 17-year olds. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is expected to accept the recommendation and make it official policy later today. The CDC also updated its vaccine guidance, recommending that individuals who received the Pfizer shot get a booster five months after getting their second shot instead of six. The updated guidance means nearly 6 million more people are now eligible for a booster shot. (Washington Post / NBC News / Axios / CNBC)
2/ The CDC will not add a testing requirement to its isolation guidelines for people infected with Covid-19 who want to end their isolation after five days. Last week, the agency shortened the time people should isolate after they test positive from 10 days to five if they’re free of fever and their symptoms have improved – no test required. The CDC also said it is not changing the definition of being fully vaccinated to include booster shots. “Individuals are considered fully vaccinated against Covid-19 if they’ve received their primary series. That definition is not changing,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. (NPR / NBC News / ABC News)
3/ Coronavirus cases have been reported on all 92 cruise ships sailing with passengers in U.S. waters, according to the CDC. In every case, the CDC has either started an investigation or has investigated and continues to observe the ship. Last week, the CDC warned all travelers, including those who are vaccinated, to avoid cruise ships. (Washington Post)
4/ Trump canceled his planned Jan. 6 news conference to mark the first anniversary of the attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters, blaming the media and the bipartisan congressional committee investigating the attack. Instead, Trump promised to “discuss many of those important topics” at a rally he is planning for Jan. 15 in Arizona. Republican senators had said a press conference from Mar-a-Lago wasn’t a “good idea.” (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)
5/ Trump’s former press secretary will speak to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol today. Stephanie Grisham resigned from the White House on Jan. 6 in response to the riot. Separately, Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of select committee, wants Pence to voluntarily speak with the panel about what he witnessed on Jan. 6 and the conversations he had with Trump and allies in the days leading up to the attack. The select panel has also issued a subpoena for the phone records of Sebastian Gorka, a pro-Trump commentator and conservative radio talk show host. Gorka, however, is suing the committee and Verizon to block the subpoena for his phone records. (CNN / NBC News / USA Today)
6/ The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot said it’s “in possession” of dozens of text messages that Fox News host Sean Hannity sent to Mark Meadows and other Trump associates around the time of the attack. In a letter to Hannity, the committee wrote that they were in possession of material that suggested Hannity “had advance knowledge regarding President Trump’s and his legal team’s planning for January 6th,” including a text Hannity sent to Meadows on Jan. 5, saying he was “very worried about the next 48 hours.” According to the committee letter, Hannity texted Meadows on Dec. 31, 2020, saying “We can’t lose the entire WH counsels office,” amid concerns that White House lawyers would quit in protest against plans to challenge the election results. “I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told.” The select committee has asked Hannity to cooperate with its investigation and answer questions about the text messages sent to associates before, during, and after the assault. (Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg / ABC News / NBC News)
7/ At least 57 people involved with the events of the Jan. 6 insurrection are running for elected office – including some who were arrested on charges related to the Capitol attack. At least 11 people who participated in the Jan. 6 riot were elected to public office in 2020, ranging from state legislature to city council to school board. (Politico)
8/ Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged to hold those responsible for the Jan. 6 riot at “any level” accountable, saying federal authorities would “follow the facts wherever they lead.” Garland’s remarks come as the attorney general faces pressure from lawmakers and others to take more aggressive action and charge those responsible for conspiring to stop Congress from certifying the election of Biden and for encouraging the insurrection that day – including possible action against Trump and his advisers. The Justice Department, meanwhile, has called the inquiry one of the largest in its history with authorities having made more than 700 arrests. More than 225 people have been accused of attacking or interfering with the police; about 275 have been charged with obstructing Congress’s duty to certify the vote; and more than 300 people have been charged with petty crimes, like trespassing and disorderly conduct. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times / USA Today)
9/ Mitch McConnell signaled that he’s open to reforming the Electoral Count Act – a year after Republicans objected to the certification of Biden’s win ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection – saying: “It obviously has some flaws. And it is worth, I think, discussing.” Senate Minority Whip John Thune added that said there’s “some interest” among Senate Republicans in reforming the Electoral Count Act, which Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have also endorsed. Democrats, however, are pursuing more comprehensive election reform and the federalization of elections. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised to hold a vote on Senate rules changes by Jan. 17 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day – to bypass Republican obstruction and pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. (Politico / Axios)
10/ Ted Cruz warned that Republicans would likely impeach Biden “whether it’s justified or not” if they retake the House in the midterm elections. In an interview last month, Cruz claimed there are “potentially multiple grounds to consider” for impeaching Biden, including “the utter lawlessness” of his “refusal to enforce the border.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki, meanwhile, said “maybe Senator Cruz can work with us on getting something done on comprehensive immigration reform […] instead of name-calling.” (Washington Post)
11/ More than 40% of Americans lived in a county that experienced a climate-related disaster in 2021. More than 80% of Americans experienced a heat wave. NOAA estimates that the federal disaster declarations cost more than $104 billion. And, 2021 ended as the fifth hottest globally, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service records, which go back to 1979. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)
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