👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
1/ A bipartisan group of governors told Biden that the country needs to “move away from the pandemic.” The daily average of U.S. cases remains near 519,000 – more than double from last winter – while daily deaths are averaging more than 1,000 per day. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, said the U.S. should move toward treating the virus as endemic, asking Biden to “help give us clear guidelines on how we can return to a greater state of normality” in order to “move beyond the pandemic.” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who also attended the meeting, added that “We’re not going to manage this to zero. We have to learn how to live with this.” White House officials, meanwhile, have reportedly grown so frustrated with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, saying he “is taking too passive a role in what may be the most defining challenge to the administration.” (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)
2/ The FDA granted full approval to Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine. Moderna’s vaccine, which was previously available under emergency use authorization, is the second coronavirus vaccine to get full FDA approval. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)
3/ Biden’s nominee to lead the FDA doesn’t have the Senate votes needed to give the agency its first commissioner in more than a year. Biden nominated Robert Califf more than two months ago. Califf lead the FDA during the Obama administration, but the former commissioner has reportedly struggled to secure the support of the 50 senators needed over concerns about his past ties to the drug industry and regulatory track record on opioids. Five Democrats have signaled they’ll oppose him, while four Republicans have publicly backed his candidacy. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, indicated that she would support Califf’s nomination after he agreed to not seek employment or compensation from any pharmaceutical or medical device company that he interacts with “for four years” following his time in government. (Politico)
4/ The EPA will resume enforcing limits on the release of mercury from coal-fired power plants. The Trump administration reversed the 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards in May 2020, which were first implemented during the Obama administration, claiming they were not “appropriate and necessary” because they were too burdensome to industry. The EPA, however, determined that it was “appropriate and necessary” to limit mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants using the Obama-era method of measuring the impact of regulation, concluding that the costs to industry is offset by public health benefits, such as prevention of disease and premature deaths. The EPA is expected to start enforcing the rule later this year and said it’s also examining whether to make the rules more stringent. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)
5/ Trump suggested that he’ll pardon the rioters charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol if he is elected president in 2024. “If I run and I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly,” Trump said during a Saturday rally in Conroe, Texas. “We will treat them fairly, and if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.” More than 725 people had been arrested in connection with the attack, with 165 people pleading guilty to various federal charges, and at least 70 receiving sentences or having their cases adjudicated. Five people also died in events related to the attack. It’s unclear, however, whether Trump’s suggestion also included those who asserted their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in the House Jan. 6 select committee investigation. Separately, Trump released a statement Sunday falsely claiming that a bipartisan group of lawmakers working to reform the Electoral Count Act proves his assertion that Pence had the “right” to overturn the 2020 election. “Actually, what they are saying, is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!” Trump wrote. The White House, meanwhile, said that Trump’s assertion that Pence could have “overturned” the election shows “how unfit” he is to hold office. (Washington Post / CNN / Associated Press / NBC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / The Hill)
6/ Atlanta’s top prosecutor asked the FBI for security assistance a day after Trump called on his supporters to hold “the biggest protests we’ve ever had” in places where he is being investigated. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is weighing whether to bring election-related criminal charges against Trump for his “attempts to improperly influence the administration of Georgia’s 2020 General Election,” and has convened a special grand jury to hear evidence in the case in May. At a Saturday rally, Trump told supporters that “if these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protests we have ever had, in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere.” Willis asked the FBI to conduct a risk assessment of the Fulton County Courthouse and Government Center and provide “protective resources to include intelligence and federal agents” following Trump’s “alarming” rhetoric. The Manhattan District Attorney and the New York state Attorney General’s offices are conducting parallel investigations into Trump’s business practices. (Washington Post / CNBC / NBC News / CBS News / Business Insider)
7/ The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol issued subpoenas to 14 people who tried to submit false slates of electors as part of an effort to overturn the 2020 election. The subpoenas went to the secretaries and chairpeople of each group of false electors in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – all states that Biden won. The panel also subpoenaed Judd Deere, a former White House spokesman with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s behavior before and during the attack on the Capitol. Pence’s former chief of staff, meanwhile, testified before the committee. Marc Short was with Pence at the Capitol during the attack. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / ABC News)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.