1/ Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there’s been “no meaningful pullback” of Russian forces at the Ukrainian border, disputing the Kremlin’s claim that it was withdrawing some troops. Blinken added that Russian troops “remain massed in a very threatening way along Ukraine’s borders. It would be good if they follow through on what they said. But so far, we haven’t seen it.” The NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, agreed with the U.S. assessment, saying that Russia remains capable “of a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine without any warning time.” U.S. analysts estimate that more than 150,000 Russian troops have amassed near the Ukrainian border. (New York Times / Politico)
2/ Biden rejected Trump’s claim that his White House visitor logs were subject to executive privilege, directing the National Archives to the send Trump administration logs to the Jan. 6 committee. In a letter to the National Archives, White House counsel Dana Remus said Biden had determined that executive privilege “is not in the best interests of the United States” and “in light of the urgency” of the committee’s work, the Archives should provide the records to the committee within 15 days. Trump was trying to block the release of the records, which show appointment information about who entered the White House on the day of the insurrection. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NBC News / CNN)
3/ The Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed six more people tied to the plan to use false slates of electors to help Trump stay in office after losing the 2020 election. The committee subpoenaed two of Trump’s campaign aides and Republican Party officials from Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. All six are ordered to provide documents to the committee by March 1, and to submit to questioning from March 8 to March 15. (New York Times / Bloomberg)
4/ The EPA will reinstate California’s authority to adopt its own, stricter tailpipe emission standards. The Biden administration is expected to finalize the waiver within days, which would reverse a Trump-era rollback. In 2019, the Trump administration revoked California’s decades-old waiver that allowed it to set stricter air pollution standards for cars and light trucks than those required by the federal government. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia – representing more than a third of the U.S. vehicle market – follow California standards. (E&E News / Bloomberg / CNN / New York Times)
5/ Trump’s former Interior Department secretary misused his position to advance a development project in his hometown and then lied about it to an ethics official. Inspector General Mark Greenblatt’s report found that Ryan Zinke repeatedly broke federal ethics rules by improperly participating in real estate negotiations, including directing his staff to assist on the project. Despite sending dozens of emails and text messages and meeting with developers in his office at Interior Department, Zinke told an ethics official in 2018 that he had done nothing improper. The Justice Department declined to bring charges. (Washington Post / Associated Press)
6/ The CDC is expected to loosen its indoor masking guidelines as a growing number of states have eased mask mandates following the Omicron wave. Speaking during a White House coronavirus task force briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the agency was working on guidance that was “relevant” and that it would be based on the level of severe disease and hospitalizations in a given community. “We want to give people a break from things like mask wearing when these metrics are better, and then have the ability to reach for them again should things worsen,” Walensky said. The U.S. reported an average of about 136,000 new daily Covid-19 cases over the last week – down 83% from the record high average set on Jan. 15. About 85,000 people with Covid-19 remain hospitalized nationwide – down from a peak of nearly 160,000 on Jan. 20. Biden, meanwhile, is set to deliver his State of the Union address on March 1 and is expected to lay out a new nationwide strategy to move past the pandemic. (New York Times / ABC News / NBC News / Washington Post / CNBC)
poll/ 49% of voters want states to rescind mask mandates, while 43% say it’s too early. 65% of Democrats think it’s too early for states to rescind mask mandates, compared to 20% of Republicans and 42% of Independents. (Politico)
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