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1/ The U.S. and its allies imposed new sanctions on more than 400 Russian individuals and entities, including lawmakers, and defense companies. Biden said that while “sanctions never deter,” the “maintenance of sanctions, the increasing the pain” on Putin is “what will stop him.” Administration officials said the sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have taken a severe toll on Russia’s economy so far. Forecasts project that the Russian economy will contract by 15% this year, wiping out 15 years of economic gains. (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters / CNN)
2/ Biden called for Russia to be removed from the G-20 group of the world’s largest economies, but added that the decision was up to the group. Biden suggested that Ukraine should be allowed to participate in the meetings if member nations didn’t agree to the expulsion. In 2014, Russia was ejected from the G-8 – a smaller group of the world’s largest economies – following its annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. Putin, meanwhile, still plans to attend the G-20 summit hosted by Indonesia later this year. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News)
3/ Biden warned that NATO would respond “in kind” if Russia used chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine. Biden declined to share any specifics, but said NATO’s response “would depend on the nature of the use.” NATO allies also agreed to provide Ukraine with equipment and training to deal with a possible Russian attack using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. The G-7 nations, meanwhile, issued a statement warning Putin against using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons in Ukraine. (Washington Post / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)
4/ A Manhattan prosecutor who investigated Trump’s financial dealings said he believes Trump is “guilty of numerous felony violations” and that it’s “a grave failure of justice” not to hold him accountable. The prosecutor, Mark Pomerantz, resigned in February after the new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, abruptly stopped pursuing an indictment and “suspended indefinitely” the Trump investigation “contrary to the public interest.” In his resignation letter, Pomerantz said “the team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes — he did.” Pomerantz added that the potential felonies are related to the “preparation and use of his annual Statements of Financial Condition,” which “were false.” Pomerantz and Carey Dunne, another top investigator on the team probing Trump and the Trump Organization, planned to charge Trump with falsifying business records, specifically his annual financial statements. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / The Guardian)
5/ Trump repeatedly pushed Republican Rep. Mo Brooks to “rescind” the 2020 election results, “remove” Biden from office, and redo the last presidential election in several conversations last year. Brooks disclosed his conversations with Trump after Trump withdrew his endorsement of Brooks in the Republican U.S. Senate primary election in Alabama. Trump “has asked me to rescind the election of 2020,” Brooks said. “He always brings up, ‘we’ve got to rescind the election. We got to take Joe Biden down and put me in now’.” When asked if Trump still says that to him, Brooks replied: “yes.” Brooks played a central role in challenging the election, including discussing plans to object to the election with Trump at the White House and speaking during the “Stop the Steal” rally at the ellipse that preceded the Capitol attack. Brooks told the crowd that they needed to “start taking down names and kicking ass.” (ABC News / New York Times / CNN / Business Insider)
6/ The Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol attack will vote on Monday to hold two former Trump White House advisers, Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino Jr., in criminal contempt of Congress. The committee subpoenaed Scavino last September and Navarro in early February. Neither cooperated or provided testimony, but Navarro did call the investigators “terrorists.” If the full House also approves the referrals, it would then move onto the Justice Department for potential prosecution. Navarro was the former trade adviser, while Scavino was former deputy chief of staff. (NPR / Associated Press)
7/ Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic confirmation hearings concluded after hearing from outside witnesses. Members of the American Bar Association, which gave Jackson its highest professional rating, praised her as a “first rate” judge who would bring “impeccable” credentials to the job “without any biases.” The ABA said they found no evidence to support Republican allegations that Jackson was lenient in her sentencing as a federal trial court judge. Republicans on the committee, meanwhile, indicated that they don’t plan to delay or block Jackson’s confirmation vote, which is expected to take place early next month. Jackson would be the first Black woman on the court in its 233-year history. (Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal
8/ Biden threatened to remove two Trump-appointed members of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition if they didn’t resign. Dr. Mehmet Oz and Herschel Walker are currently Republican Senate candidates in Pennsylvania and Georgia, respectively, despite the Biden administration’s policy prohibiting candidates for federal office from serving on boards and commissions. Trump reappointed Oz and Walker to two-year terms on the committee in December 2020. (NBC News / CNN / USA Today)
9/ Microplastic pollution was found in human blood for the first time. Scientists said they found the particles in almost 80% of the analyzed blood samples from 22 anonymous donors. Half the samples contained PET plastic (e.g. drink bottles), while a third contained polystyrene (e.g. food packaging), and a quarter of the blood samples contained polyethylene (e.g. plastic bags). The impact on health is unknown. [Editor’s note: Have a nice day.] (The Guardian)
poll/ 43% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president; 68% think the country is heading in the wrong direction; and 56% feel that Biden’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not been tough enough. On a positive note, 53% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. (Associated Press / AP-NORC)
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