1/ The Pentagon put 8,500 American troops on “high alert” as NATO and the U.S. prepare for a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. Biden has also reportedly discussed deploying several thousand U.S. troops, as well as warships and aircraft, to NATO allies in Eastern Europe. The options include sending 1,000 to 5,000 troops, with the potential to increase that number tenfold. The British government, meanwhile, warned that the Kremlin was planning to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine. And, the State Department ordered the families of all American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to leave, citing the “threat of Russian military action.” Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops and weaponry on Ukraine’s borders. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned that there will be “massive consequences” for Russia if it invades Ukraine. (CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / Washington Post / CBS News)
2/ A draft executive order prepared for Trump would have authorized the secretary of defense to have National Guard troops seize voting machines following the 2020 election, and release an assessment 60 days later – well after Trump was set to leave office on Jan. 20, 2021. Additionally, the draft order – dated Dec. 16, 2020 but never signed by Trump – would have appointed a special counsel “to institute all criminal and civil proceedings as appropriate based on the evidence collected.” The document was titled “Remarks on National Healing” and was part of a trove of documents released by the National Archives to the committee after the Supreme Court ruled against Trump’s claim of executive privilege. (Politico / NBC News)
3/ A Fulton County Superior Court judge granted a request to seat a special grand jury to investigate Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results. The special grand jury will allow Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to issue subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify and to gather additional evidence. Willis said she expects to decide on whether to bring charges against Trump in the first half of 2022. (CNN / Washington Post)
4/ Former Attorney General William Barr spoke with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. “To be honest with you, we’ve had conversations with the former attorney general already,” Bennie Thompson said. “We’ve talked to Department of Defense individuals. We are concerned that our military was part of this big lie on promoting that the election was false.” (CNN / CBS News / The Guardian / Politico)
5/ Trump called it “very, very unfair” that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot asked Ivanka Trump to sit for an interview. “It’s a very unfair situation for my children,” Trump said. “It’s a disgrace, what’s going on […] They’ll go after children.” Michael Cohen, meanwhile, said Trump told him in 2012 that if one of his kids had to go to prison over the family business to “make sure” it was Trump Jr. – not Ivanka. (The Hill / Business Insider)
6/ The Arizona Democratic Party censured Sen. Kyrsten Sinema “as a result of her failure to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our democracy.” The announcement came days after Sinema voted to maintain the Senate’s filibuster rules, effectively blocking Democrats’ voting legislation. The censure, however, is largely symbolic. (NPR / CBS News / CNN)
7/ A federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s Covid-19 vaccine requirement for federal employees, saying Biden didn’t have the authority to mandate “that all federal employees consent to vaccination against Covid-19 or lose their jobs.” The Justice Department said it was filing an appeal. (USA Today / Wall Street Journal)
8/ The Supreme Court agreed to reconsider race-based affirmative action in college admissions. The justices said they will hear challenges to admissions policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina that use students’ race when trying to build diverse student bodies. Under the Trump administration, the Justice Department supported the lawsuit, but the Biden-era department switched that position and told the court it should not accept the challenge. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
poll/ 72% of Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction; 61% say their family’s income is falling behind the cost of living; 70% agree say America has become so polarized that it can no longer solve the major issues facing the country; and 76% believe there is a threat to democracy and majority rule in this country. (NBC News)
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