1/ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that the only way for the U.S. to avoid an unprecedented default is for Congress to pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling, saying there are “no good options” and “these negotiations should not take place with a gun […] to the head of the American people.” Yellen urged congressional Republicans to drop their demand that Biden cut spending in exchange for raising the debt limit, saying failure to raise the debt ceiling will cause a “steep economic downturn” and “economic calamity” in the U.S. The U.S. is projected to default on its debt as early as June 1. Some legal experts contend that the White House can ignore Congress and invoke the 14th Amendment, which says “the validity of the public debt, authorized by law […] shall not be questioned,” to keep borrowing money past the limit, and to issue more federal debt to keep the government funded. Yellen, however, said invoking the 14th Amendment to get around the debt ceiling would risk a “constitutional crisis.” Biden and the Democrats, meanwhile, say Congress should simply increase the borrowing limit, which Republicans have refused unless it also cuts future federal spending. Some 43 Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, say they oppose a “clean” debt limit bill and support the Kevin McCarthy’s “spending cuts and structural budget reform as a starting point for negotiations on the debt ceiling.” Democrats do not have the votes to overcome a Republican filibuster on legislation in the Senate. (Washington Post / ABC News / Politico / NPR / CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News)
2/ The gunman who killed eight people and injured seven others in Texas was terminated by the Army three months after he enlisted for an unspecified mental health issue. Mauricio Garcia, who used an AR-15-style rifle in the attack and was shot dead by a police officer, joined the Army in June 2008 but failed to complete his basic training. An Army official said Garcia was “terminated” due to “designated physical or mental conditions,” without offering further details. A social media profile that appears to belong to Garcia, however, was filled with neo-Nazi content, a smiley face with a Hitler mustache, as well as rants against Jews, women and racial minorities. The profile also uploaded pictures outside the Allen Outlet Mall’s H&M entrance – where Garcia would later open fire – on April 16, including a screenshot from Google Maps showing the mall’s busiest hours. Garcia arrived at the mall wearing military-style body armor with a patch that said “RWDS.” The Right Wing Death Squad phrase is popular among white supremacists and far-right extremist groups. In his final post, Garcia wrote that no psychologist would have been able to fix him. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / Daily Beast / NPR / Politico)
3/ At least eight of the 16 Republican “fake electors” in Georgia have accepted immunity deals in the criminal investigation into Trump efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said the meeting of Trump’s electors on Dec. 14, 2020, Trump’s phone calls to multiple state officials, and his campaign’s involvement in a breach of election equipment are all key targets of her investigation. Willis secured eight cooperation agreements after notifying the 16 fake electors that they were targets in her investigation. (Washington Post / CNN)
4/ A jury will begin deliberations in E. Jean Carroll’s civil battery and defamation trial against Trump, who rejected his last chance to testify. “You must hold him to account for what he’s done,” Carroll’s lawyer said during closing arguments, adding that Trump followed a “playbook” he had for kissing and groping women without their consent before he raped Carroll in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s. Trump’s lawyer, meanwhile, called Carroll’s case “a scam,” arguing that she “abused the system by bringing a false claim for money, status and political reasons […] minimizing real rape and exploiting real pain and suffering and we cannot let her profit to the tune of millions of dollars.” The jury is expected to begin deliberations Tuesday. (New York Times / Politico / CNBC / CNN / Wall Street Journal / NPR)
5/ The World Health Organization declared Covid-19 the global public health emergency over. The declaration was first issued more than three years ago, on Jan. 30, 2020. “That does not mean Covid-19 is over as a global health threat,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that the official Covid-19 death toll was 7 million, but the real figure was estimated to be at least 20 million. The director of the CDC, meanwhile, resigned, saying the end of the Covid-19 public health emergency was a good time to make a transition. (Associated Press / NBC News)
poll/ 36% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president – down from 42% in February. 47% “strongly” disapprove. (Politico)
poll/ 68% of Americans say Biden is too old for another term as president. 44%, meanwhile, say Trump is too old. Trump is 76; Biden is 80. (ABC News)
poll/ 47% of Democrats want the party to nominate “someone other than Biden.” Among Democratic-leaning voters, 58% want someone nominated other than Biden, while 77% of independents who lean Democrat want a different candidate. (Washington Post)
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