Day 379: "Ambitious but doable."
1/ Biden directed the Pentagon to deploy more than 3,000 American troops to Eastern Europe to reinforce NATO allies as Russia continues its military buildup near Ukraine’s borders. Roughly 2,000 troops will be going to Poland, while another 1,000 already based in Germany will be deployed to Romania. “These forces are not going to fight in Ukraine,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said. “We are making it clear that we’re going to be prepared to defend our NATO allies if it comes to that.” The administration, however, did not rule out sending additional troops to Europe, and still has 8,500 American troops on “high alert” for possible deployment if NATO activates its military response force. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / USA Today / CNN / NBC News)
2/ The EPA urged Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to reconsider his plan to spend up to $11.3 billion on as many as 165,000 new mostly gas-powered delivery vehicles, citing the damage the polluting vehicles could inflict on the environment and public health. DeJoy oversaw the agency’s decision to award the contract and signed off on a plan for limiting just 10% of the new trucks to be electric. The new, gas-powered trucks are expected average 8.6 miles per gallon – a 0.4 mpg improvement over the current fleet, which is nearly 30 years old and well below the industry standard for new service vehicles. DeJoy, however, justified the plan, claiming that the Postal Service couldn’t afford to buy more electric vehicles and that the current charging infrastructure was insufficient despite the Postal Service’s own analysis showing that 95% of mail routes could be electrified. Postal Service vehicles make up a third of the government’s fleet. (Washington Post)
3/ Biden relaunched the White House’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative, which aims to reduce the death rate from the disease by 50% over the next 25 years. Biden called the goal “ambitious but doable,” noting that the death rate has fallen by about 25% in the past 20 years. The initiative promises improvements in prevention, detection, and treatment, but does not contain new money for the effort. In 2016, Congress authorized $1.8 billion for the program, which still has two years of funding left. Biden called on Congress to fund the effort, as well as his 2021 proposal to create a new health research agency, dubbed the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. (Washington Post / CNN)
4/ A member of the House Jan. 6 committee accused Trump of tampering with witnesses by promising to pardon those involved in the attack if reelected in 2024. “Absolutely,” Rep. Pete Aguilar said when asked if Trump was tampering with witnesses by discussing potential pardons. “And I think the question is more from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, you know where – where are they? Do they support this? When is enough enough?” Trump has repeatedly promised in recent days to pardon the Capitol rioters if he wins a second term as president. Between Jan. 6 and Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, Trump considered issuing a blanket pardon for all participants in the Jan. 6 riot, reportedly making three calls to an adviser to ask: “Do you think I should pardon them? Do you think it’s a good idea? Do you think I have the power to do it?” (CNN / Politico / Talking Points Memo)
5/ A witness during Trump’s first impeachment sued Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and two former Trump White House staffers, alleging that the group conspired to intimidate him from testifying and later retaliated against him. Retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman filed a civil lawsuit in federal court, accusing the defendants of engaging in an “intentional, concerted campaign of unlawful intimidation and retaliation” against him for testifying before Congress in 2019. Vindman alleges that the campaign was “designed to inflict maximum damage by creating and spreading disinformation” that would be repeated on Fox News and other right-wing outlets, which “destroyed” his ability to continue his career in national security and led to his retirement from the military. During Trump’s 2019 impeachment trial, Vindman testified about a July call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Biden’s son Hunter and his ties to Ukrainian businesses. (NPR / CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)
6/ More than 100 far-right candidates are running for political office as Republicans, according to the Anti-Defamation League. At least a dozen candidates reportedly had explicit connections to “white supremacists, anti-government extremists and members of the far-right Proud Boys.” Meanwhile, the eight Republicans seeking re-election who backed Trump’s impeachment or voted to convict him have raised more money than their GOP challengers. (The Guardian / NBC News)
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