1/ Trump approvingly quoted Putin to support his unfounded claim that his four criminal indictments are political payback. During a Saturday campaign stop in New Hampshire, Trump baselessly claimed that Biden is a “threat to democracy” and that “even Vladimir Putin […] says that Biden’s – and this is a quote – politically motivated persecution of his political rival is very good for Russia because it shows the rottenness of the American political system.” Trump added: “They’re all laughing at us.” Trump also called Jan. 6 defendants “hostages,” and praised authoritarian leaders Viktor Orban as “highly respected” and Kim Jong Un as “very nice.” Trump faces 91 criminal charges across four separate cases of falsifying business records in a hush money scheme, mishandling classified documents, and trying to overturn the 2020 election results. There is no evidence that Biden has meddled in the prosecutions of Trump, which are taking place in four different federal and state courts. (Washington Post / New York Times / USA Today / CNN)
2/ Biden condemned Trump for his repeated statements that immigrants are “poisoning the blood” of America,” criticizing the rhetoric as “parroting Adolf Hitler.” During a Sunday speech in Nevada, Trump reiterated his baseless claim that migrants were “invading” the U.S. from prisons and “mental institutions” in other countries, while pledging to conduct the “largest deportation operation in American history” if elected to a second term. The term “blood poisoning” was used by Hitler in “Mein Kampf,” in which he criticized immigration and the mixing of races as an existential threat to the Aryan race. “Echoing the grotesque rhetoric of fascists and violent white supremacists and threatening to oppress those who disagree with the government are dangerous attacks on the dignity and rights of all Americans, on our democracy, and on public safety,” the White House said. “It’s the opposite of everything we stand for as Americans.” Trump’s remarks come as congressional Republicans have stalled a Ukraine-Israel aid package until Democrats agree to unrelated U.S.-Mexico border security reforms. (NBC News / CNN / Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / The Hill / CNBC / Axios)
3/ A binder containing highly classified information related to Russian election interference disappeared in the final days of Trump’s presidency. The disappearance of the raw intelligence, known as “Crossfire Hurricane,” was so concerning to officials that the Senate Intelligence Committee was briefed about it last year because it contained details that could reveal secret sources and methods. The day before leaving office, Trump had the 10 inches thick binder brought to the White House so he could declassify most of the documents related to the FBI’s Russia investigation. In the two-plus years since Trump left office, the government has been unable to retrieve the missing intelligence, which was last seen at the White House during Trump’s final days in office. (CNN / New York Times)
4/ A federal appeals court rejected an effort by Mark Meadows to move his Georgia election interference case from state court to federal court. The judges found that “the events giving rise to this criminal action were not related to Meadows’s official duties,” and that “even if Meadows were an ‘officer,’ his participation in an alleged conspiracy to overturn a presidential election was not related to his official duties.” A key part of the Fulton County criminal case against Meadows involves setting up a call on Jan. 2, 2021, in which Trump urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to reverse his election loss in the state. (NBC News / Bloomberg / ABC News)
5/ A jury ordered Rudy Giuliani to pay two Georgia poll workers $148 million after he falsely accused them of helping to steal the 2020 presidential election from Trump. The eight-member panel awarded Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss $16.2 million apiece for claims that Giuliani defamed them, as well as $20 million apiece for the emotional suffering they experienced after Giuliani’s allegations were followed by threats, harassment, and professional consequences. Judge Beryl Howell had previously ruled that Giuliani had defamed the two workers. (NBC News / Politico / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)
6/ House Democrats called on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from the case examining whether Trump is absolutely immune from federal prosecution. Citing the court’s new code of conduct’s guidance on impartiality, Democrats told Thomas that his wife’s activities after the 2020 election raise “serious questions” about his ability to remain impartial in cases that involve the last presidential election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Ginni Thomas pressed the Trump White House and lawmakers to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory. She exchanged more than two dozen text messages with Mark Meadows to pursue overturning the election in the weeks after the vote, attended the Stop the Steal rally before the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, and told the House committee investigating the attack that she still believed the 2020 election was stolen. Separately, Thomas complained about his salary to a Republican lawmaker in January 2000 – almost a decade into his tenure – and suggested that if Congress didn’t increase salaries, “one or more justices will leave soon.” Thomas made the equivalent of $300,000 today. A month prior, Thomas borrowed $267,000 from a friend to buy a high-end RV. (Washington Post / ProPublica / CBS News / Politico)
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