👋 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.
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1/ A special grand jury was seated in Georgia to help investigate whether Trump and others tried to illegally influence the 2020 election in the state. The case centers on Trump asking election officials to “find” him enough votes to overturn Biden’s win in that state. Trump lost Georgia by roughly 12,000 votes out of five million cast, and his efforts to reverse the outcome included direct calls to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who oversees elections, and the lead investigator for his office. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened the investigation in early 2021, and the grand jury will have the power to subpoena testimony from witnesses and to obtain evidence. The probe is seen as the biggest threat of criminal prosecution that Trump currently faces. (Associated Press / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)
2/ New York City entered a higher risk level for coronavirus transmission as cases continue to rise. The city moved into the medium (yellow) risk category with nearly 2,500 new cases per day – a jump from about 600 in March – which could trigger a return to some public health restrictions. Preliminary research, meanwhile, suggests that two new Omicron subvariants – BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1 – are about 25% more transmissible than Omicron (BA.2), which is currently dominant nationally. (New York Times / Washington Post)
3/ Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reiterated his request from about a year ago for migrants to “not come” to the U.S. southern border. Mayorkas said Homeland Security is planning for the possibility of a record-breaking 18,000 border apprehensions per day if Title 42 is lifted – compared to the current number of about 7,000 per day – which would put a “strain on the system.” In April, the CDC said it would end the Trump-era pandemic restriction on May 23, which has been used to expel more than 1 million migrants at the southern border. (CNN / Politico)
4/ A federal judge allowed the Jan. 6 committee to obtain the Republican National Committee’s marketing email data leading up to the insurrection. District Court Judge Tim Kelly – a Trump appointee – said the committee had demonstrated its need for the RNC’s email data about efforts to fundraise off claims that the 2020 election was stolen. Kelly also issued an injunction to allow the RNC to appeal his ruling by May 5. The committee, meanwhile, said it wants to talk to three more House Republicans linked to the Jan. 6 attack, asking Reps. Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, and Ronny Jackson to appear voluntarily. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / NPR / ABC News)
5/ Antiabortion groups and some Republican lawmakers have started meeting about potential federal legislation to outlaw abortion after six weeks of pregnancy if the Supreme Court weakens or overturns Roe v. Wade this summer. While a nationwide abortion ban would be extraordinarily difficult to pass given the need for 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster, antiabortion advocates have spoken with 10 possible Republican presidential candidates, including Trump, about a national strategy. Most of them reportedly said they’d be supportive of a national ban and would make the policy a centerpiece of a presidential campaign. (Washington Post)
6/ The primaries for November’s midterm elections begin this month with voters in 13 states heading to the polls. All 435 House seats and 34 Senate seats are up for election in November. In the 50-50 Senate, 14 seats currently held by Democrats are up for election, while 21 are currently held by Republicans. Control of both chambers is in play. (NPR / CNN)
poll/ 47% of voters said they’re more likely to vote for the Republican in their district in November’s midterm elections, compared to 44% who said they’d likely vote for the Democrat. 10% said they were unsure which candidate they’d vote for, and the poll has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points. (NPR)
poll/ 55% of Americans are in favor of increased military support in Ukraine despite 81% also saying they’re concerned that the war could expand to other countries or involve the possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia. (ABC News)
Biden was warned that immigration and inflation could erode support for him and the Democratic party. “Despite the early warnings from his pollster, Biden and his top advisers have struggled to prevent either issue from becoming a major political liability.” (New York Times)
How Tucker Carlson stoked white fear to conquer cable. “A New York Times examination of the host’s career and influence at Fox News shows how his trajectory traces the transformation of American conservatism itself.” (Part 1; Part 2; Part 3)
Likelihood of a Trump indictment in the Manhattan district attorney investigation fades as the grand jury wraps up. “In the weeks since the Manhattan district attorney stopped presenting evidence to the jurors about Trump, new signs have emerged that the former president will not be indicted in Manhattan in the foreseeable future — if at all.” (New York Times)
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