Day 846: "Remain optimistic."
1/ A man armed with a metal baseball bat attacked two staff members in Rep. Gerry Connolly’s district office in Virginia. Xuan Kha Tran Pham entered the office and demanded to see the congressman, saying “Where’s Connolly?” Pham, 49, reportedly grew agitated when he learned Connolly was at a ribbon cutting for a food bank in another part of Fairfax County. He proceeded to attack two staff aides, smash a glass conference room window, and break computers. Pham faces charges of one count of felony aggravated malicious wounding and one count of malicious wounding. It’s not clear what his motivation may have been, but last year Pham filed a $29 million federal lawsuit alleging that the CIA had imprisoned him for decades in a “lower perspective based on physics called the book world” and that he was being “brutally tortured […] from the fourth dimension.” (CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Politico / Associated Press)
2/ Republican congressman Paul Gosar’s digital director is a neo-Nazi acolyte. Evidence shows Wade Searle pledging his allegiance to Nick Fuentes’ white supremacist “Groyper” movement, as well as posting extremist, anti-Semitic, racist, and anti-vaccine content on far-right websites. Searle’s alleged involvement occurred before and after he started working in Gosar’s office. (Talking Points Memo)
3/ Biden will meet with congressional leaders on the debt ceiling limit Tuesday following “productive” negotiations over the weekend. “I remain optimistic because I’m a congenital optimist,” Biden said despite time running out to strike a deal to avert a government default. Negotiations have centered on federal spending caps, clawing back unspent Covid-19 funds, speeding up the permitting process for energy projects, and stricter work requirements for social safety net programs. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, meanwhile, reiterated that the U.S. could default on its debt by June 1 if Congress doesn’t raise or suspend the debt limit. (CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Bloomberg)
4/ Special counsel John Durham concluded that the FBI should never have launched a full investigation into connections between Trump’s campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, calling the investigation “seriously flawed.” Durham accused investigators of causing “severe reputational harm” to the FBI, saying agents “discounted or willfully ignored material information that did not support the narrative of a collusive relationship between Trump and Russia.” According to the 306-page report, the FBI used “raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence” as the basis for launching the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation but was more cautious and skeptical of allegations of foreign influence regarding Clinton’s campaign. The FBI opened the Russia investigation after an Australian diplomat reported that Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had bragged to him about the Russian government possessing dirt on Clinton. Durham was tapped in 2019 by then-Attorney General Bill Barr to examine the origins and conduct of the investigation into whether Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia. Durham, however, did not bring high-level indictments or uncover evidence of what Trump called “the crime of the century.” Instead, Durham charged three defendants during the four-year investigation. Two were acquitted and the third pleaded guilty to avoid prison time. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico / Axios)
5/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defunded diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at the state’s colleges and universities, calling the programs a “distraction from the core mission.” The legislation restricts how gender and race are taught on campus, and bans general education courses that “distort significant historical events,” teach “identity politics,” or are “based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, or privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, or economic inequities.” (NBC News / USA Today / CNN / Washington Post / Politico)
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