1/ Biden called for a humanitarian “pause” in the Israel-Hamas war to allow for the release of hostages held in Gaza, but stopped short of calling for full cease-fire. Israeli officials say Hamas seized more than 240 hostages and killed about 1,400 people during the Oct. 7 terrorist attack. Since then, four hostages have been released and negotiations have continued. The Biden administration said humanitarian pauses would “facilitate aid getting in and hostages getting out” of Gaza. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also noted that “Palestinian civilians [are] continuing to bear the brunt of this action.” The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry reports that at least 9,061 people have been killed and more than 23,000 have been injured in the Gaza Strip. An estimated 1.4 million people – more than half of the enclave’s population – are currently displaced. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees reported that more than 690,000 displaced Palestinians were currently taking refuge in 149 shelters, describing the situation as “desperate.” UNICEF, the U.N. agency for children, reported that an average of 400 children had been killed or injured each day in Gaza over the past 25 days. UNICEF also described the repeated Israeli airstrikes on the Jabalya refugee camp as “horrific and appalling,” saying “this cannot become the new normal.” And, the U.N. Human Rights Office said it had “serious concerns” about Israel’s military operations, saying “these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes.” Israeli soldiers, meanwhile, have encircled Gaza City and are “conducting close combat battles with Hamas terrorists and expanding the fighting.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a video message to troops in the field, saying “Nothing will stop us […] We will move forward. We will advance and win, and we will do it with God’s help.” (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / ABC News / NBC News / CNN / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • 💡 What Israel should do now. “Israel’s current approach is clearly wrong. Here’s a better way to fight Hamas — and win.” (Vox)
  • 💡 “A Desperate Situation Getting More Desperate.” (The Drift)
  • 💡 “You can be a victim and a perpetrator at the same time,” Yuval Noah Harari said. “It’s a very simple fact—from the level of individuals to the level of entire nations. But impossible to accept for most people.” (YouTube)
  • 💡 Biden and Netanyahu Look Headed for a Breakup on Unqualified U.S. Support for the Gaza War. “The president was right to support Israel after Hamas’ attacks on Oct. 7. But the U.S. must make it clear its priority is a lasting peace, not endless carnage.” (Daily Beast)

2/ The House voted down efforts to expel George Santos and censure Rashida Tlaib. The Republican-led resolution to expel Santos – who faces 23 federal charges for wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, lying to Congress, and identity theft – failed 179 to 213, with 24 Republicans voting to expel. Meanwhile, all House Democrats and 23 Republicans rejected a resolution to censure Tlaib for her criticism of Israel and her speech at a protest calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. House Democrats then scrapped plans to vote on a resolution to censure Marjorie Taylor Greene for her past support of political violence and history of antisemitic and racist remarks. (New York Times / Axios / Politico / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NPR / Associated Press)

3/ Special counsel Jack Smith accused Trump of seeking to manipulate the courts to delay both his classified documents and election interference trials past the 2024 presidential election “at any cost.” Currently, Trump’s election interference trial is set to begin in early March, and the classified documents case is set to go to trial in late May – less than two months before the start of the Republican National Convention in July. Smith’s office is prosecuting both federal cases, and if Trump wins the election, he could likely shut down the cases as president. Trump’s lawyers have argued that they need a delay in the classified documents case because it will clash with the federal election case. While Judge Aileen Cannon didn’t explicitly agree to move the trial, she did acknowledge that there would be “adjustments” to the schedule. Hours later, Trump asked Judge Tanya Chutkan to halt his election interference case until the court issues an opinion on whether he has “absolute immunity” from criminal prosecution for actions he took while president. “Defendant Trump’s actions in the hours following the hearing […] confirm his overriding interest in delaying both trials at any cost,” the Justice Department said in a court filing. “This Court should [not] allow itself to be manipulated in this fashion.” (ABC News / CNN / Axios / Politico / The Messenger)

4/ Trump Jr. and Eric Trump both testified in the $250 million New York civil fraud trial accusing the Trump family of knowingly committing “numerous acts of fraud” by inflating Trump’s net worth on statements of financial condition in order get more favorable loans. The judge overseeing the case, Arthur Engoron, has already found Trump, Trump Jr., and Eric Trump liable for “persistent and repeated” fraud. The trial is to determine how much the Trumps and their businesses will have to pay. Nevertheless, Trump Jr., who signed and certified the accuracy of the statements, testified that “I wasn’t involved” in the Trump Organization’s statements of financial condition. He blamed his accountants, saying “That’s what we paid them to do.” Meanwhile, Eric Trump initially denied having “anything to do” with the financial statements or appraisals of Trump Organization assets, saying “I pour concrete, I operate properties.” But when shown an email exchange he had with an appraiser about appraisals, Eric raised his voice and said: “We were a major organization, a massive real estate organization […] of course, I was clear we had financial statements. Absolutely.” (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / ABC News / NPR)