1/ Trump’s businesses received at least $7.8 million from foreign governments – most of it from China – during his time in office, according to a report by the House Oversight Committee. During the two-year period that the committee was able to review, at least 20 foreign government paid millions to Trump’s hotels in Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, New York’s Trump Tower, and Trump World Tower. Jamie Raskin, the ranking member of the Oversight Committee, said that the $7.8 million is “almost certainly only a fraction of Trump’s harvest of unlawful foreign state money, but this figure in itself is a scandal and a decisive spur to action.” The report argues that the payments violated the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause, which prohibits a president from accepting money, payments or gifts “of any kind whatever” from foreign governments and monarchs unless he obtains “the consent of the Congress” to do so. Trump never went to Congress to seek consent. The evidence that Trump’s businesses profited from foreign governments during his presidency is the same conduct that House Republicans have unsuccessfully used as the basis of their impeachment inquiry into Biden. The Republican’s yearlong investigation has failed to produce evidence of anything approaching high crimes or misdemeanors. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico)
- 🔎 What’s at stake? Trump’s acceptance of millions from foreign governments as president violates constitutional safeguards and undermines American democratic principles and norms. This act not only questions the impartiality of presidential decisions, but also threatens the nation’s integrity and independence. Such conduct risks setting a dangerous precedent where personal gain overshadows national interest, potentially allowing for critical policy decisions to be influenced by foreign entities. This issue is a reminder that in a democracy, leaders must prioritize the country’s welfare above all, maintaining integrity and independence from external influences.
2/ The Justice Department sued Texas over the state’s new law that would allow police to arrest, jail, and prosecute migrants who illegally enter the U.S. The state law makes it a misdemeanor to illegally cross the border and a second-degree felony for illegal re-entry, with punishments ranging from 180 days in jail to 20 years in prison. It also allows judges in Texas to issue de facto deportation orders. The Justice Department argued that the Constitution assigns the federal government – not individual states – the authority to regulate immigration and manage international borders. “Texas cannot run its own immigration system,” the Justice Department wrote in the lawsuit. “Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution and longstanding Supreme Court precedent, states cannot adopt immigration laws that interfere with the framework enacted by Congress.” (Associated Press / Axios / Politico / CBS News)
3/ Florida’s surgeon general – citing widely debunked misinformation – called for a halt to using mRNA coronavirus vaccines. Joseph Ladapo has repeatedly falsely claimed that the vaccine is ineffective and can permanently contaminate human DNA. Federal health officials and other experts, meanwhile, have refuted each of Ladapo’s false claims. “We’ve seen this pattern from Dr. Ladapo that every few months he raises some new concern and it quickly gets debunked,” Ashish Jha, a former White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said. “This idea of DNA fragments — it’s scientific nonsense. People who understand how these vaccines are made and administered understand that there is no risk here.” The coronavirus vaccines have prevented more than 3 millions deaths and saved the U.S. more than $1 trillion in medical costs. Covid hospitalizations, meanwhile, have been on the rise nationally, with nearly 30,000 Americans newly hospitalized the week of Dec. 23. (Washington Post / New York Times / The Guardian / The Hill)
4/ Federal prosecutors accused Sen. Bob Menendez of using his political influence to benefit Qatar and Egypt. The superseding indictment accuses Menendez of taking actions to benefit the government of Qatar in exchange for cash, gold bars, luxury watches, and Formula 1 tickets. In addition to the bribery charges, Menendez is accused of acting as a foreign agent for the government of Egypt while serving as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Menendez has resisted calls that he resign from the Senate and has not ruled out running for re-election. His trial is scheduled for May. (New York Times / ABC News / Washington Post / CNN)
poll/ 25% of Americans falsely believe the FBI “probably” or “definitely” instigated the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 11% think there is “solid evidence” that the FBI organized and encouraged the attack, while 13% say this is their “suspicion only.” Among Republicans, 34% said the FBI instigated the attack, compared with 30% of independents, and 13% of Democrats. (Washington Post)
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