Day 608: "The pandemic is over?"
1/ Biden said he believes “the pandemic is over” despite the U.S. recording more than 2 million Covid-19 cases and more than 12,000 deaths in the last 28 days. The declaration was an apparent off-the-cuff remark and not part of Biden’s planned remarks, and come as his administration seeks an additional $22.4 billion from Congress for coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments. Biden, however, acknowledged that the U.S. still has a “problem” with the coronavirus that has killed more than 1 million Americans. Further, the federal government still designates Covid-19 a Public Health Emergency, and the WHO says it remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. “We are not there yet but the end is in sight,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO. “We can see the finish line, but now is the worst time to stop running.” (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / NPR / Wall Street Journal)
2/ Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin restricted the rights of transgender students in the state’s schools, issuing new “Model Policies” that roll back the work of Youngkin’s predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam. The new guidelines will require transgender students to access school facilities and programs matching the sex they were assigned at birth and mandates that students who are minors must be referred to by the name and pronouns in their official records, unless a parent approves the use of something else. Further, school personnel won’t be required to refer to a student “in any manner” that would run counter to their personal or religious beliefs. The new rules will effect more than 1 million children enrolled in the state’s 133 school districts. (NPR / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)
3/ The Justice Department asked an appeals court to let the FBI regain access to about 100 classified documents taken from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, but didn’t try to block Judge Aileen Cannon’s appointment of Raymond Dearie to serve as special master. Last week, Judge Cannon’s granted a special master to review thousands of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. She also blocked law enforcement agencies from using any of the documents for investigative purposes until the review is done. Lawyers with the Justice Department’s national security division wrote: “Although the government believes the district court fundamentally erred in appointing a special master and granting injunctive relief, the government seeks to stay only the portions of the order causing the most serious and immediate harm to the government and the public.” The Justice Department previously argued that delaying its investigation into Trump’s handling of classified government records could result in “irreparable harm.” Separately, months before the National Archives retrieved 15 boxes containing hundreds of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s team claimed that none of the material was sensitive or classified and that Trump had only 12 boxes of “news clippings.” Since the September 2021 call, the Archives and Justice Department have recovered 42 boxes of records from Trump’s estate, including 15 boxes handed over last January and an additional 27 boxes retrieved by the FBI during a court-authorized search of Mar-a-Lago last month. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / NPR)
4/ Trump’s longtime accounting firm started turning over documents to the House Oversight Committee as part of its investigation into his potential conflicts of interest and foreign financial ties. The committee first subpoenaed Mazars USA for Trump’s financial records in April 2019 for information about his dealings from 2014 to 2018. Trump and Mazars USA recently agreed to turn over some “key financial documents” to the committee after the accounting firm said it could no longer stand behind the statements it had prepared for the Trump Organization over a decade. (New York Times / CNN)
5/ At least a dozen Republican candidates for governor and Senate wouldn’t commit to accepting the results of their contests. On the Democratic side, however, all 19 nominees said they would accept the outcome of the November results. Biden, meanwhile, said that it’s “much too early” to make the decision on whether he will run again for president in 2024. “Look, my intention, as I said to begin with, is that I would run again. But it’s just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen,” Biden said when asked whether he would run. (Washington Post / New York Times)
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