What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Day 106: "Disingenuous."

1/ A federal judge accused the Justice Department and then-Attorney General William Barr of misleading the court about how they decided that Trump should not be charged with obstructing Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. In a 35-page opinion ordering the release of a March 2019 Office of Legal Counsel memo, Judge Amy Berman Jackson called Barr and department lawyers “disingenuous” for withholding the document, saying the department tried to “obfuscate” the purpose of the memo because Barr and his advisers had already decided they wouldn’t charge Trump with a crime before getting the written advice. “The review of the document reveals that the Attorney General was not then engaged in making a decision about whether the President should be charged with obstruction of justice,” Jackson wrote. “The fact that he would not be prosecuted was a given.” Barr and Justice Department attorneys had argued that the memo was part of the department’s decision-making process that helped Barr decide not to prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice. Jackson said because Barr had already decided against charging Trump before he got the written advice, the memo could be made public. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN)

2/ A federal judge struck down the national eviction moratorium, ruling that the CDC exceeded it’s authority and should be vacated. The moratorium was due to expire at the end of January, but Biden extended it – first until April and later through June. Federal Judge Dabney Friedrich noted that while Congress had ratified earlier extensions of the moratorium order – aimed at helping victims of the pandemic hold onto their homes – it had not done so for the latest extension, potentially leaving millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes. (NBC News / CNBC)

3/ The Biden administration said it supports waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines. “This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai wrote in a statement. “The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines.” Pharmaceutical companies, however, have opposed the move, saying it won’t solve supply-production problems in the short term, and, until now, the U.S., other wealthy nations, and the European Union have opposed the waiver, saying IP protection creates incentives to innovate. (Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC)

4/ ICE deportations fell to the lowest monthly level on record. In April, ICE deported 2,962 immigrants – a 20% decline from March. Illegal border crossings, however, remain at a 20-year high. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump’s Facebook account will remain suspended for the time being. The company-funded tribunal of outside experts, however, ruled that it was not appropriate to indefinitely suspend Trump, saying “Within six months of this decision, Facebook must reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7 and decide the appropriate penalty.” In a statement, Trump called the decision “a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our country […] these corrupt social media companies must pay a political price.” Trump also began fundraising off of the Facebook announcement, texting supporters with a link to donate to his fundraising committee. (Politico / USA Today / Washington Post / NBC News)

Day 105: "New normal."

1/ The FDA is expected to authorize Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children as young as 12 by next week. The Pfizer vaccine was authorized by the FDA for people 16 and older in December, while Moderna is currently authorized for ages 18 and up. Children now account for 22.4% of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. (New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / Associated Press)

2/ The number of people getting their first Covid-19 vaccine dose has declined in at least 47 states as the country approaches 150 million vaccinated people. The average number of people getting a first or single dose vaccine each day has fallen by about 50% from the April 13 peak. While the 11-day safety-based pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is partly responsible, health officials say the decline is the mark of a successful campaign as the people most eager to get vaccinated have already gotten their shots. Biden, meanwhile, set a July 4th goal for the country to have 160 million adults in the U.S. fully vaccinated, and 70% of adults having at least one vaccine shot. More than 56% of adult Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and nearly 105 million are fully vaccinated. (Bloomberg / New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The White House will reallocate some Covid-19 vaccine doses away from states with lower demand to those where demand remains high. States will continue to receive weekly vaccine allotments based on their populations, but the new policy puts unordered doses into a federal bank for other states to order from. States with greater demand for vaccines can request and receive up to 50% of their regular allocation. Previously, unordered doses carried over week to week. (Washington Post / Politico / USA Today)

4/ America’s “new normal” temperature is one degree hotter than it was two decades ago, according to NOAA’s updated set of climate averages for the contiguous U.S. based on the 30-year period from 1991 to 2020. The 30-year average temperature for the contiguous U.S. hit a record high of 53.28 degrees. Twenty years ago, normal was 52.3 degrees based on data from 1971 to 2000, and the average U.S. temperature for the 20th century was 52 degrees. The U.S. is not just hotter, but also wetter in the eastern and central parts of the nation, and drier in the West than a decade earlier. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

5/ More than 180 businesses, executives, and community leaders released letters calling for expanded voting access in Texas, saying they oppose “any changes that would restrict eligible voters’ access to the ballot.” The letters criticize two voting bills currently advancing through the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature, including the reallocation of polling machines, limiting early voting options, and adding criminal penalties to various parts of the election process. “These provisions, among others, will inevitably damage our competitiveness in attracting businesses and workers to Houston,” the group, called Fair Elections Texas, said. “Voter suppression is a stain on our reputation that could cost our region millions of dollars.” (NBC News / New York Times / ABC News)

6/ House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said Republican lawmakers are questioning whether Rep. Liz Cheney can continue in her leadership role as she continues to criticize Trump and reject his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. “I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message,” McCarthy said on Fox News. “We all need to be working as one if we we’re able to win the majority.” Cheney, the party’s No. 3, accused Trump of “poisoning” U.S. democracy by repeating his false claims about the 2020 election and that Republicans should not “whitewash” the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, saying Trump’s role in fomenting it “is a line that cannot be crossed.” During an off-air moment caught on a hot mic, McCarthy told Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy: “I think she’s got real problems. I’ve had it with […] I’ve had it with her. You know, I’ve lost confidence. […] Well, someone just has to bring a motion, but I assume that will probably take place.” (Bloomberg / CNN / Axios / New York Times / Politico)

Day 104: "America's values."

1/ Scientists and public health experts say that “herd immunity” in the U.S. may not be attainable due to vaccine hesitancy. About 30% of the U.S. population remains reluctant to be vaccinated. The original herd immunity threshold, meanwhile, was estimated to be about 60 to 70% of the population. Experts, however, now estimate that the herd immunity threshold to be at least 80% due to more contagious variants circulating in the U.S. Experts also say the coronavirus will most likely continue to circulate in the U.S., causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers. (New York Times)

  • Los Angeles County reported no new deaths related to Covid-19 and just 313 new cases of the coronavirus. Infections in L.A. County are at their lowest levels since the start of the pandemic. (Los Angeles Times)

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended the state’s remaining Covid-19 public health restrictions, saying “we are no longer in a state of emergency.” Since the beginning of the pandemic, Florida has reported the third-most Covid-19 cases in the U.S. at more than 2.2 million and the fourth-highest death toll at more than 35,000 fatalities. (CNBC / ABC News)

2/ The U.S. will restrict travel from India starting Tuesday, citing a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country and the emergence of coronavirus variants. The policy does not apply to American citizens, lawful permanent residents or other people with exemptions. India recorded 386,452 Covid-19 cases on Friday – the ninth day in a row the country has added more than 300,000 cases a day. The country also reported 3,498 deaths, bringing the death toll to 208,330. (Associated Press / CNN / NBC News)

3/ The EPA proposed phasing out the use of a common refrigerant blamed for driving global warming. The proposed regulation would cut down on the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons in cooling appliances in the U.S. by 85% over the next 15 years. It’s the first time the federal government has set national limits on hydrofluorocarbons, a class of man-made chemicals thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet. Phasing out HFCs worldwide is expected to avert up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The Biden administration will raise the refugee ceiling to 62,500 this fiscal year. In a statement, Biden said that raising the cap “erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.” The White House, however, abruptly reversed course on the number of refugees it will allow into the U.S. last month after the Biden administration said it would keep Trump’s historically low refugee admissions target at 15,000. (CNN / USA Today)

5/ The Biden administration will reunite four migrant families separated during the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy in 2017. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called it “just the beginning” of a broader effort. More than 1,000 families, however, remain separated. (Associated Press / ABC News / NBC News)

6/ Rep. Liz Cheney pushed back against Trump’s attempt to commandeer the term “Big Lie” and accused him and those who perpetrate the falsehoods of “poisoning” democracy. After Trump issued a statement from his Save America PAC proclaiming that the presidential election “will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!” – a term used to refer to the false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump – the No. 3 House Republican publicly rejected Trump’s false claim, tweeting: “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.” Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump for inciting the riot at the Capitol. (CNN / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post)

7/ The Capitol Police official who directed officers to look for anti-Trump protesters in the pro-Trump crowd on the morning of Jan. 6 was the deputy chief and sixth-ranking official in the department. Eric Waldow is facing congressional scrutiny for his 8:24 a.m. radio transmission: “With regards to pedestrian traffic on — on the grounds today, we anticipate a — a large presence for pro-Trump participants. What we’re looking for is any anti-Trump counter protesters.” (Politico)

8/ The Biden administration disclosed secret Trump-era rules for targeted killings away from conventional war zones. In 2017, Trump issued rules for counterterrorism “direct action” operations, like drone strikes and commando raids, in certain countries, giving commanders broad latitude to make decisions about attacks, including that there should be “near certainty” that civilians “will not be injured or killed in the course of operations.” A Biden administration review discovered that the Trump-era operating principles often made an exception to the requirement of “near certainty” that there would be no civilian casualties. The Biden administration suspended the rules on its first day in office and imposed an interim policy requiring approval for strikes outside of the war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. (New York Times)

9/ Joe Manchin said he does not support the bill to make D.C. the nation’s 51st state, likely dooming the measure’s chances in the Senate. “If Congress wants to make D.C. a state, it should propose a constitutional amendment,” Manchin said. “It should propose a constitutional amendment and let the people of America vote.” (Washington Post / CBS News)

Day 101: "One god-awful mess."

1/ The FBI warned Rudy Giuliani in late 2019 that he was the target of a Russian disinformation operation aimed at damaging Biden ahead of the election. Giuliani received a so-called “defensive“ briefing by the FBI while involved with Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign and efforts in Ukraine to dig up dirt about Biden and his son, Hunter. Despite the warning, Giuliani continued to try and find damaging information on the Bidens, meeting with Kremlin-tied associates and publicly pushing misleading and unsubstantiated claims that were part of a Russia disinformation campaign. The FBI seized Giuliani’s cellphone and other electronic devices this week as part of a long-running criminal investigation into whether he acted as an unregistered foreign agent. (Washington Post / CNN / NBC News)

2/ The Trump administration’s firing of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine is at the center of the federal criminal investigation into Rudy Giuliani. At least one of the search warrants executed this week seeks evidence related to Marie Yovanovitch and her role as ambassador. Guiliani worked to oust Yovanovitch, believing she had been obstructing his efforts to dig up dirt on the Biden family. Federal authorities are expected to check Giuliani’s electronic devices for communications between him and Trump administration officials about Yovanovitch before she was recalled in April 2019. (New York Times)

3/ Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz’s close friend wrote a “confession” letter last year detailing how he and Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women, including a minor who was 17 at the time. Joel Greenberg’s letter was part of a failed attempt to secure a pardon from Trump – with the help of Roger Stone – for their alleged sex crimes, which the Justice Department is investigating. “On more than one occasion, this individual was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District and myself,” Greenberg wrote. “From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18. I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.” Stone wrote to Greenberg on Jan. 13: “I hope you are prepared to wire me $250,000 because I am feeling confident.” The pardon effort was not successful. (Daily Beast / CNN / Vanity Fair / Washington Post)

4/ Mitch McConnell and 37 Republicans called on Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to remove the “1619 project” from federal grant programs. The project reframes American history around August 1619 when the first slave ship arrived and the legacy that slavery played in shaping the country. Biden’s Education Department has proposed a grant program for schools that would incentivize them to use tools like the 1619 Project in their classrooms. In a letter, McConnell and republicans argued that the project tells a revisionist history of America’s founding and claimed that the administration put “ill-informed advocacy ahead of historical accuracy.” (Politico / CNN)

5/ The Biden administration returned more than $14 billion to the Pentagon, which was diverted by the Trump administration for the construction of a wall at the southwestern border. The administration also plans to cancel all related construction contracts. The Defense Department said the reclaimed funds would be returned to accounts designated for “schools for military children, overseas military construction projects in partner nations, and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account.” (ABC News / The Hill / Politico)

6/ Biden blamed the Trump administration for the problems at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying his administration inherited “one god-awful mess at the border.” Biden added that the border situation is the result of “the failure to have a real transition — cooperation from the last administration, like every other administration has done.” (NBC News)

7/ Republicans in the Florida Legislature passed an election overhaul bill that would place restrictions on ballot drop boxes and residents’ ability to vote by mail. The bill will limit the use of drop boxes and restrictions on where drop boxes cab be placed, add new voter ID and signature requirements, require voters to request an absentee ballot for each election, limit who could collect and return ballots, and restricts who can hand out items – including food or water or election-related material – for voters waiting in line. Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Fox News that he “of course” would sign the bill. (New York Times / NPR / CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

Day 100: "Crisis into opportunity."

1/ Biden declared that “America is rising anew” in his first address to Congress, calling for a $4 trillion investment in infrastructure, children, families, and education to help rebuild the economy and compete with rising global competitors. Biden pointed to the nation’s emergence from the coronavirus and events that, in his view, tested American democracy, saying “We have stared into an abyss of insurrection and autocracy — of pandemic and pain — and ‘we the people’ did not flinch.” Biden delivered his remarks with Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris sitting behind him – the first president to deliver an address to Congress with two women behind him – representing the line of succession to his office. “Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again,” he added. “Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.” (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

  • poll/ 85% of Americans who watched Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress approve of his speech. 15% disapproved. Viewers described Biden’s speech as “Presidential, “Caring,” “Inspiring,” and “Bold.” (CBS News)

  • poll/ 71% of Americans who Biden’s speech said they feel more optimistic about the country’s direction. Overall, 68% said Biden has had the right priorities so far, while 32% said he has ignored the most important problems. (CNN)

2/ Another 553,000 Americans filed for initial unemployment benefits last week – a pandemic low for the third consecutive week. (Washington Post)

  • The State Department urged U.S. citizens to leave India “as soon as it is safe to do” due to the coronavirus outbreak. The travel advisory noted that “access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the surge in Covid-19 cases […] U.S. citizens who wish to depart India should take advantage of available commercial transportation options now.” (Washington Post)

3/ The Justice Department charged three white men with hate crimes for shooting and killing Ahmaud Arbery. A father and son armed themselves, got into a truck and chased and fatally shot the 25-year-old Black man after spotting him running in their Georgia neighborhood. Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory, and William “Roddie” Bryan where each charged with one count of interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels were also charged with using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. (USA Today / Associated Press)

4/ The Senate voted to restore an Obama-era regulation designed to reduce climate-changing methane emissions from oil and gas fields. The Trump administration eliminated federal requirements for oil and gas companies to monitor and repair methane leaks from pipelines, storage facilities, and wells. (NPR / CNBC)

5/ A bipartisan group of senators proposed legislation to remove military commanders from their role in prosecuting service members for sexual assault. There were 7,825 reports of sexual assault involving service members as victims in 2019 – a 3% increase from 2018. The conviction rate, however, was 7% in both 2018 and 2019 – the lowest rate since the department began reporting in 2010. (New York Times)

6/ Federal agencies are investigating at least two incidents on U.S. soil that appear similar to the “Havana syndrome” attack, a mysterious, invisible event reported by American diplomats based in Cuba in late 2016. One of the unexplained attacks occurred in November near the Ellipse, the oval lawn south of the White House, and sickened one National Security Council official. (CNN / CNBC)

Day 99: "Investments in our future."

1/ The White House unveiled a $1.8 trillion spending and tax plan to expand access to child care, education, paid leave, and an extension of some tax credits. Biden is expected to detail the American Families Plan in a joint session of Congress tonight, which starts around 9 p.m. ET. The proposed plan, which includes about $1 trillion in investments and $800 billion in tax credits over a decade, would provide $200 billion in universal pre-kindergarten, more than $100 billion in free community college, extend the expanded child tax credit through 2025, and set aside $225 billion to create a national paid family and medical leave program, among other initiatives. The plan, which the White House has billed as “generational investments in our future,” would largely be funded by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Between the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, which the White House unveiled last month, and the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, Biden is proposing roughly $4 trillion in investments over the next decade that would expand the U.S. social safety net and the role of government in public life. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN / Politico / USA Today / CNBC)

2/ Federal investigators executed search warrants at Rudy Giuliani’s New York City home and office as part of a criminal investigation into his dealings in Ukraine. Investigators seized Giuliani’s electronic devices as part of a yearslong investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors into possible violation of foreign-lobbying rules. The FBI also executed a search warrant at the Washington-area home of Victoria Toensing in connection with the Giuliani investigation. Toensing, a lawyer close to Giuliani, had dealings with several Ukrainians in an effort to try to dig up dirt about Biden as he ran for president. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CBS News / NBC News / CNN)

3/ Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office repeatedly prevented state health officials from releasing the true coronavirus death toll in New York nursing homes for at least five months. Starting last April, Cuomo’s most senior aides overruled and obscured the state’s health officials from releasing a scientific paper, which incorporated the death toll, and two letters by the Health Department and meant for state legislators were never sent. The full data on nursing home deaths was not released until late January 2021, when a report by the state attorney general found that the state might have undercounted the true death toll by as much as 50%. (New York Times)

4/ Biden nominated a critic of Trump’s immigration policies to serve as director of ICE. If confirmed, Harris County, Texas, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez would be the first politically appointed director in years. The Trump administration never had a Senate-confirmed director. (CNN)

5/ The Biden administration will propose a ban on menthol cigarettes. Research shows menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than regular tobacco products. Approximately 20 million Americans smoke menthols. (Washington Post / CBS News / New York Times)

poll/ 53% of Americans approve of the way Biden is handling his job and say he has the right priorities. 59% say Biden is doing a good job keeping his campaign promises, and 66% approve of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. (CNN)

Day 98: "A beautiful day."

1/ Americans fully vaccinated against the coronavirus no longer need to wear masks outdoors in most situations except for large gatherings, according to updated CDC guidance. People who are fully vaccinated can go without masks outdoors when walking, running or biking, or gathering in small groups with friends outdoor. “Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what they cannot do, what they should not do,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “Today, I’m going to tell you some of the things you can do if you are fully vaccinated.” Despite declining coronavirus infections and deaths in the U.S., the CDC still recommends wearing a mask – even for vaccinated individuals – in public settings indoors and outdoors where there is a substantial risk of Covid-19 transmission, such as at concerts, sporting events, and other crowded gatherings. “Beginning today, gathering with a group of friends, in a park, going for a picnic […] as long as you are vaccinated and outdoors, you can do it without wearing a mask,” Biden said, calling it “a beautiful day.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios / NBC News)

  • India reported more than 300,000 new confirmed Covid-19 cases for the sixth day in a row. India’s 323,144 new infections over the past 24 hours comprises 39% of global cases. (Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ The Department of Homeland Security limited ICE’s ability to arrest immigrants in or near courthouses. ICE officers will now be allowed to make civil immigration arrests near a courthouse only when it involves national security, a risk of imminent death or harm to anyone, the “hot pursuit” of someone who is “a threat to public safety,” or when there is risk of destruction of evidence in a criminal case. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the Trump administration’s “expansion of civil immigration arrests at courthouses […] had a chilling effect on individuals’ willingness to come to court or work cooperatively with law enforcement.” (BuzzFeed News / NBC News)

3/ Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas launched an internal probe “to address the threat of domestic violent extremism within the Department of Homeland Security.” The task force will provide a “comprehensive review of how to best prevent, detect, and respond to threats related to domestic violent extremism within DHS.” The review comes after the Pentagon completed a 60-day “stand down” to address extremism after several veterans were found to have taken part in the Capitol riot. (ABC News / New York Times)

4/ Biden is expected to propose an $80 billion funding boost for the IRS and increased authority to combat tax dodging by the wealthiest Americans. The administration projects that the plan would generate about $700 billion over 10 years in net revenue. If approved, individuals who earn more than $400,000 a year would face a higher likelihood of a tax audit. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Biden signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage paid by federal contractors to $15 an hour. The raise from $10.95 an hour would begin in January 2022, and agencies would have to implement the measure by March. (NBC News / New York Times)

poll/ 68% support Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, while 29% oppose it. (CNBC / Monmouth University)

poll/ 25% of American women say they are financially worse off today than before the pandemic began, compared to 18% of men. 27% of non-White Americans say they are worse off now vs. 18% of Whites. (Washington Post)

Day 97: "Presidential, focused, and competent."

1/ The U.S. Census Bureau released the first set of updated state population totals from the 2020 census, which were delayed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Trump administration’s interference last year. California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia all lost a seat in the House, while Texas picked up two seats, and Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon all gained one seat each. Over the past decade, the U.S. population grew at the slowest rate since the 1930s. The full Census data used for redistricting will not be publicly released until the end of September. (NPR / Axios / Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNN / Politico)

2/ The Justice Department opened an investigation into the practices of the Louisville Metro Police Department – 13 months after LMPD officers killed Breonna Taylor inside her own apartment while serving a no-knock warrant. Attorney General Merrick Garland referred to Taylor during his announcement of the investigation, saying the Justice Department “will assess whether (Louisville Metro Police Department) engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force, including with respect to people involved in peaceful expressive activities.” Last week, Garland announced a similar investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department following the police killing of George Floyd. (CNN / NBC News)

3/ Biden signed an executive order to create a White House task force to promote union membership. Kamala Harris will lead the task force, which will issue recommendations about how the federal government can use its authority to help workers join labor unions and bargain collectively. In 2018, Trump signed three executive orders to limit union protections and bargaining rights for federal employees. (New York Times)

4/ The Department of Agriculture extended a pandemic benefits program to feed up to 34 million children from low-income families over this summer. The plan will provide about $375 per child to buy food for the roughly 10 weeks they are out of school in the summer – about $7 a weekday. (NBC News / Axios)

5/ The U.S. will send 60 million doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine abroad. The AstraZeneca vaccine, which hasn’t been authorized for use in the U.S. by the FDA, will be sent to other countries once it clears federal safety reviews. “We do not need to use AstraZeneca in our fight against covid,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. AstraZeneca has not sought FDA authorization for its vaccine, but has already manufactured millions of doses in the U.S. under a federal contract. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

6/ The CEO of a vaccine production facility sold more than $10 million worth of his company stock before disclosing that it had ruined 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine. The transactions were Robert Kramer’s first substantive sales of Emergent stock since April 2016. (Washington Post)

  • poll/ 22% of Americans said they’re willing to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while 73% not yet immunized against the coronavirus say they’re not willing, and 4% had no opinion. (Washington Post)

7/ The Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal to a New York law that restricts an individual from carrying a concealed handgun in public. It’s the first time in more than a decade that the court has agreed to take up a central issue of the gun rights debate. (NBC News / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

poll/ 58% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while 42% disapprove. A majority of Americans described Biden as “presidential,” “focused,” and “competent.” (CBS News)

Day 94: "A critical step."

1/ The U.S. death rate in 2020 was the highest above normal ever recorded. In 2020, 3.4 million people died in the U.S., representing a 16% increase from the previous year in what epidemiologists call “excess deaths,” or deaths above normal. The 1918 flu pandemic caused a 12% jump in excess deaths. The CDC has said about 10% of the deaths last year can be directly attributed to Covid-19. (New York Times)

  • The State Department issued more than 115 “Do Not Travel” advisories, citing “ongoing risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” As of last week, 33 countries were on the U.S. Do Not Travel list. (NPR)

2/ Sen. Ron Johnson questioned the “big push” to get everyone vaccinated against the coronavirus, saying he sees “no reason to be pushing vaccines on people,” asking “quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?” The Wisconsin Republican added that he was “highly suspicious” of the vaccine distribution effort, saying that it should be “limited” to the most vulnerable because – he claims – it’s “not a fully approved vaccine.” At the same time, Johnson acknowledged that the coronavirus “vaccines are 95% effective.” (Forbes / CNN)

  • Covid-19 hospitalizations among Americans 65 and older have fallen more than 70% since the start of the year. Covid-19 deaths among Americans 65 and older have declined more than 50% since their peak in January. (Associated Press)

3/ A federal vaccine advisory panel recommended that the U.S. resume the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, saying the benefits outweighed the risk of a rare blood clot disorder. The vaccine would carry a warning label about a potential increase in the risk of rare but severe blood clots and low platelet counts. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to decide whether to formally accept the recommendation shortly. Out of nearly 8 million people who have received the J&J shot, health officials discovered 15 cases of a rare kind of blood clot, three of them fatal. (Associated Press / NBC News / Politico / Axios / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ The Department of Housing and Urban Development withdrew a Trump-era proposal that would’ve allowed single-sex homeless shelters to discriminate against transgender people. The Trump administration rule allowed federally funded homeless shelters to base admissions on a person’s “biological sex” instead of their gender identity. “We are taking a critical step in affirming HUD’s commitment that no person be denied access to housing or other critical services because of their gender identity,” Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge said. “HUD is open for business for all.” (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

5/ The Justice Department expects to charge more than 500 people in connection with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. “Over 400 individuals have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack,” federal prosecutors said in court documents. “The investigation continues and the government expects that at least one hundred additional individuals will charged.” (NBC News)

poll/ 59% of 18-to-29-year-old Americans approve of Biden’s job performance, 65% approve of his handling of the coronavirus and 57% race relations. (Harvard Youth Poll)

poll/ 60% of Americans say the U.S. should do more to hold police accountable for the mistreatment of Black people, while 33% say the country is doing too much to interfere in how police officers do their job. (Washington Post)

Day 93: "A moral imperative."

1/ Biden pledged to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030 – double the country’s prior commitment under the 2015 Paris climate agreement – saying “the signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable and the cost of inaction keeps mounting.” As of 2019, U.S. emissions were about 13% below 2005 levels. “This is the decisive decade,” Biden said during an Earth Day summit with 40 world leaders. “This is the decade that we must make decisions to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis. This is a moral imperative. An economic imperative. A moment of peril, but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities.” About 85% of current global emissions come from outside the U.S. The United Kingdom recently announced plans to reduce its emissions by 78% by 2035, while the European Union pledged to cut 55% of its emissions by 2030. China, the world’s largest emitter, pledged to reduce coal consumption starting in 2025 as part of an effort to reach net zero emissions by 2060. (NPR / New York Times / CNBC / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Senate passed legislation denouncing discrimination against Asian communities in the U.S. The bill will also appoint an official in the Justice Department to review and expedite Covid-19-related hate crime reports. The vote was 94-1, with Sen. Josh Hawley voting in opposition. The legislation is expected to pass in the House before heading to Biden’s desk for a signature. (Axios / Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The House voted along party lines to grant statehood to Washington, D.C. The legislation would enfranchise more than 712,000 Americans, giving the 51st state one representative in the House and two senators. The White House, the Capitol, and the National Mall would remain a federal district. An identical bill passed the House in 2020, but died in the then-Republican-controlled Senate. The legislation would likely require at least 10 Republican Senators to vote in support to clear a 60-vote threshold for passage. It’s unclear if all Senate Democrats support the bill, which Republicans have called a Democratic power grab. (NBC News / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Axios)

4/ The average daily number of coronavirus vaccinations in the U.S. dropped 11%. Over the past week, 3.02 million doses per day were administered – the biggest downturn in the seven-day average since February when winter storms forced vaccination sites to close and delayed shipments nationwide. (Washington Post)

  • poll/ 29% of health care works have considered leaving their profession as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 55% of health workers are burned out. (Washington Post)

5/ An Office of Professional Responsibility investigation found that a Capitol Police official radioed “all outside units’ attention” on the morning of Jan. 6, that they should not be “looking for any pro-Trump in the crowd.” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, describing the radio broadcast during a House Administration Committee hearing on security failures around the Capitol attack, added that the radio transmission directed police to “only looking for any anti-Trump” protestors. Capitol Police, meanwhile, said the call “has been misquoted and is lacking […] necessary context.” (Politico / CNN)

6/ The Trump administration delayed approximately $20 billion in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and then obstructed the investigation into the delay, according to a Housing and Urban Development inspector general report. “Delays and denials of access and refusals to cooperate negatively affected the ability of the [Office of Inspector General] to conduct this review,” the report said. Inspector General Rae Oliver Davis, appointed by Trump, found unprecedented bureaucratic hurdles set by the White House, including former senior administration officials in the Office of Management and Budget refusing to provide requested information about decision-making related to the relief funds. (Washington Post)

7/ Biden is expected to formally acknowledge that the killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in the early 20th century constituted genocide. A bipartisan group of more than 100 House members called on Biden to become the first U.S. president to recognize the World War I-era deportation, starvation, and massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in modern-day Turkey as genocide. Turkey, meanwhile, has denied that the killings constituted genocide, saying that Armenians rose up against the government. (New York Times / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

8/ Biden is expected to propose almost doubling the capital gains tax rate for people earning more than $1 million, increasing the rate they pay on that income from 20% to 39.6%. The proposal would help pay for Biden’s American Family Plan, which would provide hundreds of billions of dollars for universal pre-kindergarten, expanded subsidies for child care, a national paid leave program, and free community college tuition. Biden will detail the American Family Plan in a joint address to Congress on April 28. (Bloomberg / New York Times)

9/ Senate Republicans released an outline for their own $568 billion infrastructure plan. Democrats, however, rejected the counteroffer to Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure spending package, calling the GOP proposal “totally anemic” and an “insult.” Elizabeth Warren added that “the Republican proposal does not meet the moment.” (CNBC / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

Day 92: "An American achievement."

1/ The Justice Department will investigate whether the Minneapolis Police Department “engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing,” including the use of excessive force, discriminatory conduct, or the abuse of those with mental health illness or physical disabilities. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the investigation one day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd. The investigation is separate from the previously announced federal criminal inquiry into whether Chauvin violated Floyd’s civil rights during his arrest and death last May. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

  • A 16-year-old Black girl was shot and killed by a police officer outside her home after she called 911 for help in Columbus, Ohio. The shooting happened about 20 minutes before Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict was announced. (Columbus Dispatch / NPR)

  • poll/ 71% of Americans agree that Derek Chauvin was guilty, while 13% disagreed and 15% had no opinion. (USA Today)

2/ Republican lawmakers in 34 states have introduced 81 anti-protest bills – more than twice as many proposals as in any other year. Republican legislators in Oklahoma and Iowa have granted immunity to drivers who strike and injure protesters with their car in public streets; Indiana would bar anyone convicted of unlawful assembly from state employment, including elected office; Minnesota would prohibit those convicted of unlawful protesting from receiving student loans and unemployment benefits; Kentucky would make it a crime to insult or taunt a police officer; and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed sweeping legislation he’s called “the strongest anti-looting, anti-rioting, pro-law-enforcement piece of legislation in the country.” (New York Times)

3/ The U.S. has administered 200 million coronavirus vaccines since Biden took office. Biden said that more than half of all U.S. adults had received at least one shot and that more than 80% of Americans 65 and older have been partially or fully vaccinated. “Today, we did it, today we hit 200 million shots in the 92nd day in office,” Biden said. “This is an American achievement, a powerful demonstration of unity and revolve – what unity will do for us, and a reminder of what we can accomplish when we pull together, as one people, to a common goal.” About 13 million doses were administered during the Trump administration. (Politico / NPR / CNN / ABC News)

  • New coronavirus cases globally were reported last week than in any seven-day period since the beginning of the pandemic. Last week’s 5.24 million new cases broke the previous record of 5.04 million, which was set in the week ended Jan. 4. (New York Times)

4/ The Trump administration awarded nearly $1.3 billion to a company to supply more than 100 million prefilled Covid-19 vaccine syringes in 2020, which have never been delivered. The ApiJect syringe never received the needed FDA approvals and the plant to manufacture the needles was never built. Pfizer said that even if ApiJect got all the needed approvals, it would “not have any impact on our output or process.”(NBC News)

5/ The U.S. Postal Service is running a covert internet surveillance program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, looking for what a government bulletin described as “inflammatory” postings. The Internet Covert Operations Program has not previously been made public. According to a March 16 government bulletin, which was marked as “law enforcement sensitive” and distributed through the Department of Homeland Security, the iCOP program “monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically […] Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.” Why the post office, which handles mail deliveries, would a run social media surveillance program is unclear. (Yahoo News)

Day 91: "Overwhelming."

1/ Derek Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for killing George Floyd. In May 2020, Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the 46-year-old Black man, who was handcuffed and face down in the street, repeatedly cried out, “I can’t breathe.” The former Minneapolis police officer faces up to 75 years in prison when he is sentenced in the coming weeks. Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines, however, call for sentences short of the maximum. Each murder charge for a person with no criminal history carries a presumptive prison sentence of 12.5 years in Minnesota, while manslaughter carries a presumptive prison sentence of four years. The jurors deliberated for about 10 hours over two days after the prosecution and defense teams presented nearly six hours of closing arguments. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC)

  • 📌 Day 1226: Trump threatened military violence against U.S. citizens in Minneapolis who were protesting the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed, unarmed black man who was killed while pleading for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Trump, who previously called the video of Floyd’s death “shocking,” tweeted that the protesters were “THUGS” and warned that “the Military is with [Gov. Tim Walz] all the way […] Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” Hours later, the White House reposted Trump’s comment on its official account. Last month, Trump tweeted support for protesters in Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia to “LIBERATE” themselves and defy coronavirus stay-at-home orders. In 2017, when neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Va., and a counter-protester was killed, Trump responded by saying there were “very fine people” on “both sides” of the issue. (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 1228: Police nationwide responded to protests against police violence by deliberately targeting demonstrators, journalists, and bystanders with pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and excessive use of force. The ongoing protests following the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer – who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes – have taken place in at least 75 cities, including at the gates of the White House, in the days since Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been fired, arrested, and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Since then, police have tear-gassed protesters, drove vehicles through crowds, opened fire with rounds of rubber bullets and pepper balls on journalists and bystanders, pushed over an elderly man with a cane who was walking away, shot a woman in the face with a rubber bullet as she left a grocery store, and shot a photojournalist in the eye with a rubber bullet, who is now permanently blind. Curfews have been enacted in more than two dozen cities, and about 5,000 National Guard troops have been activated in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Organizers have tried to keep the protests focused on police accountability and social justice through chanting and marching, but agitators, posing as peaceful protesters, have exploited the situation by looting stores, setting fire to buildings and police cars, and throwing firecrackers, bottles, bleach, and, reportedly, a molotov cocktail at police. Some advisers, meanwhile, have urged Trump to formally address the nation and call for calm, while others have said he should condemn only the looting or risk losing middle-of-the-road voters in November. The White House, however, declared a lid, which means no one should expect to see or hear from Trump for the rest of the day. (Slate / Nick Waters / Vox / Washington Post / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / The Week)

  • 📌 Day 1230: Trump threatened to deploy “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers” to end “riots and lawlessness” if states and cities failed to quell the demonstrations sparked by the killing of George Floyd. In a brief Rose Garden speech, Trump declared himself “your president of law and order” and said he would mobilize every available federal force, both “civilian and military,” to “quickly solve the problem” and end the nationwide protests. Trump denounced the violence as “domestic acts of terror” as he ordered governors and mayors to establish “an overwhelming law enforcement presence.” Trump, however, stopped short of invoking the Insurrection Act, which would allow him to deploy active duty U.S. troops to respond to protests in cities across the country. After Trump made the announcement, he left without taking questions from reporters. (New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN / Axios / NBC News / NPR / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ EARLIER TODAY: Biden suggested that the evidence against Derek Chauvin was “overwhelming” and said he was praying for the “right verdict” in the George Floyd case. Biden also called the Floyd family to express his support and sympathy. Rep. Maxine Waters, meanwhile, urged protesters in Minnesota to “stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” if Chauvin is not convicted. The judge overseeing the trial, however, said the comments could be grounds for appeal and “may result in this whole trial being overturned.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general declined to investigate what role the Secret Service played in the clearing of peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square in June 2020 so Trump could stage a photo op. According to documents, Joseph Cuffari’s staff submitted a draft plan on June 10 to investigate whether the Secret Service violated its use-of-force policies when it cleared the area with rubber bullets and a sprayed chemical irritant. Trump and his aides then walked across the park to demonstrate strength and control amid the civil unrest that followed George Floyd’s death. Cuffari declined to approve the investigation, as well as another investigation into the spread of the coronavirus among the Secret Service as Trump continued to hold campaign events during the pandemic. Hundreds of officers were either infected with the coronavirus or had to quarantine after potential exposure. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 1230: As he spoke from the Rose Garden, police cleared peaceful protesters outside the White House with tear gas and flash grenades so Trump could pose by a church for photographs to dispel the notion that he was “weak” for hiding in a bunker over the weekend. Following his remarks in the Rose Garden, Trump left the White House and walked through Lafayette Square, where riot police and military police had cleared protesters moments before. Once Trump reached the far side of the square, he raised a bible in front of the church for a photo. Trump’s decision to speak to the nation from the Rose Garden and to then visit the church came together because he was reportedly upset about the news coverage of him retreating to the White House bunker amid the protests. Just before Trump spoke, Attorney General William Barr personally ordered law enforcement officials to clear protesters from Lafayette Square. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Vox / Washington Post / YouTube / Religious News Service)

4/ Biden will pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by 2030 – a near-doubling of the target that the U.S. committed to under the 2015 Paris climate agreement – when he convenes a virtual climate summit with more than three dozen world leaders on Thursday. In 2015, the U.S. pledged to cut emissions between 26 and 28% compared to 2005 levels as part of the Paris accord. Biden officials are still considering a target range for reducing its emissions, which could go above 50%. Trump pulled the U.S. from the global climate deal in 2017. (Washington Post)

5/ The Biden administration said it “strongly supports” making D.C. the 51st state, adding that Congress should “provide for a swift and orderly transition to statehood” for the more than 700,000 Washington residents who do not have full voting representation in the House and Senate. (Washington Post / CNBC)

6/ The U.S. ambassador to Russia initially refused to leave the country after the Kremlin “advised” him to return home following sanctions by the Biden administration. John Sullivan later announced that he would return home for “consultations” with American officials. Russia’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, announced it would expel 10 American diplomats and bar current officials from visiting Russia. Satellite photos, meanwhile, show that Russia has moved warplanes and troops to Crimea and bases near Ukraine to a greater extent than has previously been disclosed. (Axios / NPR / Politico / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

7/ A dozen megadonors contributed $1 in every $13 raised for federal candidates and political groups since 2009. The top 12 donors and their spouses – split equally between six Democrats and six Republicans – donated a combined $3.4 billion. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

Day 90: "Seriousness and urgency."

1/ The White House abruptly reversed course on the number of refugees it will allow into the U.S. On Friday, the administration said it would keep Trump’s historically low refugee admissions target at 15,000, walking back Biden’s pledge to lift the cap to 62,500 this year and push it to 125,000 for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Democratic leaders called the administration’s admissions target “unacceptable” and hours later the White House said it would increase the cap on refugee admissions for the rest of this fiscal year by May 15. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden would set the final cap and expects that it will be higher than Trump’s ceiling, but is “unlikely” to rise to the 62,500 that Biden had promised in February. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Biden administration ordered U.S. immigration enforcement agencies to stop using terms such as “alien,” “illegal alien,” and “assimilation” when referring to immigrants. In memos sent to department heads at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, “alien” will become “noncitizen or migrant,” “illegal” will become “undocumented,” and “assimilation” will change to “integration,” among others. (Washington Post)

3/ The U.S. and China agreed to cooperate to fight climate change “with the seriousness and urgency that it demands.” John Kerry, the Biden administration’s special envoy for climate, said that despite various political disputes between the two countries, “it’s very important for us to try to keep those other things away, because climate is a life-or-death issue in so many different parts of the world.” China and the U.S. are the world’s two biggest carbon emitters, accounting for nearly half of the planet’s carbon dioxide. Biden is scheduled to hosts a virtual summit of world leaders to discuss efforts to reduce carbon emissions later this week. (New York Times / Associated Press)

  • poll/ 56% of Americans think climate change needs to be addressed immediately, while 11% think it needs to be addressed in the next few years, and 33% say action on climate can wait or doesn’t need to be addressed. (CBS News)

4/ The White House removed the Trump-appointed scientist from overseeing the National Climate Assessment, the government’s definitive report on the effects of climate change. Betsy Weatherhead – considered a mainstream scientist who believes that climate change is a real and serious issue – was reassigned to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Interior Department’s scientific arm. (Washington Post / CNN)

5/ The Supreme Court declined to take up a case from Republicans challenging changes to election rules in Pennsylvania. The case, by a former Republican congressional candidate and four individual voters, challenged the secretary of state’s decision to allow three extra days for receiving mail ballots because of the statements from the U.S. Postal Service that delivery would likely be slow amidst the coronavirus pandemic. (CNN / NBC News)

  • poll/ 63% of Americans supported term or age limits for Supreme Court justices, while 22% said they opposed limits. (NBC News)

6/ The Biden administration allocated $150 million to boost coronavirus response for underserved communities and vulnerable populations. Community-based health care providers must apply for the funds from the American Rescue Plan by May 14 and then the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will decide who is approved for funding. (CNN)

7/ Trump won nine of the 10 states in the 2020 election where most residents said they would probably or definitely not get a Covid-19 vaccine. Further, in more than 500 counties, at least a quarter of adults are unwilling to get vaccinated. A majority of residents in these counties voted to re-elect Trump. (New York Times)

  • poll/ 36% of adults under the age of 35 say they don’t plan on getting a Covid-19 vaccine. Overall, 27% of adults say they don’t plan to get the vaccine. (Quinnipiac / CNN)

8/ The Justice Department sued Roger Stone for nearly $2 million in unpaid federal income taxes and fees. The lawsuit accused Stone and his wife, Nydia, of underpaying their income taxes by $1,590,361 from 2007 to 2011, and that Stone was short on his 2018 tax bill by $407,036. (NBC News)

9/ A federal judge revoked bail for two leaders of the Proud Boys, contending that they’re too dangerous to remain free while awaiting trial. “The defendants stand charged with seeking to steal one of the crown jewels of our country, in a sense, by interfering with the peaceful transfer of power,” Judge Timothy Kelly said. “It’s no exaggeration to say the rule of law and […] in the end, the existence of our constitutional republic is threatened by it.” Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs are charged with conspiring to stop the certification of the 2020 election, and with organizing dozens of Proud Boys to the Capitol. (Politico)

10/ Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules governing the use of taxpayer-funded resources, according to a report by the State Department’s inspector general’s office. The government watchdog determined that Pompeo and his wife, Susan, asked State Department employees to carry out tasks for their personal benefit more than 100 times. In 2020, Trump fired the State Department inspector general, Steve Linick, who had opened an investigation into Pompeo. (Politico)

Day 87: "Disastrous."

1/ Biden will keep Trump’s historically low refugee admissions target at 15,000, walking back his pledge to lift the cap to 62,500 this year and push it to 125,000 for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Biden, however, signed an emergency determination to speed refugee admissions to the U.S and adjust the allocation limits set by Trump, who placed strict restrictions on accepting refugees from certain African and majority-Muslim countries. Rep. Ilhan Omar called Biden’s decision “shameful,” while Rep. Pramila Jayapal said it was “disastrous.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NBC News)

2/ The Biden administration will spend $1.7 billion to track coronavirus variants. The money – which was part of the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill passed last month – will go toward sequencing coronavirus genomes, creating six new new genomic epidemiology centers, and creating a national bioinformatics infrastructure. (Politico / NPR / Associated Press / Washington Post)

  • The U.S. and other nations will likely need booster shots and annual vaccinations against Covid-19. David Kessler, the chief science officer for Covid-19 response,, told a House subcommittee hearing that the U.S. should plan for booster shots in the future. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, meanwhile, said that a “likely scenario” included the need for a third vaccine dose within 12 months after inoculation, after which “there will be an annual revaccination.” (CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ Police officers and public officials donated money to Kyle Rittenhouse, who stands accused of murdering two protesters last August. Rittenhouse traveled about 15 miles from neighboring Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to offer armed protection to businesses during the protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot multiple times at close range and left paralyzed. A data breach at a Christian crowdfunding website revealed that the donations were attached to email addresses traceable to police and other public officials. (The Guardian)

  • A gunman killed eight people and injured several others before shooting himself at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. Brandon Hole was a former employee at the facility. The FBI was previously warned by a relative about Hole’s potential for violence. The FBI opened a preliminary investigation, but closed the inquiry after concluding there wasn’t sufficient evidence to continue. (The Indianapolis Star / New York Times / CNN)

4/ A founding member of the Oath Keepers arrested in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate. Jon Ryan Schaffer is the first defendant to publicly flip in the domestic terrorism investigation, which has led to more than 410 people being charged. (Washington Post)

5/ Russia expelled 10 U.S. diplomats and indefinitely barred entry to eight U.S. officials in response to U.S. sanctions and expulsions. The officials included Attorney General Merrick Garland; Michael Carvajal, director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons; Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland security; Susan Rice, Biden’s domestic policy adviser; FBI Director Christopher Wray; and Avril Haines, director of National Intelligence. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 28% of Americans said they support bills restricting transgender athletes’ participation on sports teams, while 67% oppose such bills. (PBS / NPR)

  • The Alabama Legislature passed a bill to prevent transgender girls from playing on female sports teams. The bill would prohibit K-12 schools from letting a “biological male” participate on a female team. More than a dozen states are considering similar restrictions on transgender athletes or gender-confirming health care for transgender minors. (Associated Press)

poll/ 64% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while 29% disapprove. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 59% of Americans approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, while 39% disapprove. (Pew Research Center)

Day 86: "Disinformation and interference."

1/ The Biden administration imposed sanctions on Russia for alleged interference in the 2020 presidential election, the cyberattack against U.S. government and corporate networks, the illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea, and human rights abuses. The administration sanctioned six Russian technology companies that supported hacking operations run by Russia’s intelligence services and expelled 10 intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover in the U.S. The White House formally said the Russian intelligence service SVR was responsible for the hacking operation known as SolarWinds. The Treasury Department also sanctioned 32 entities and individuals for “carrying out Russian government-directed attempts to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and other acts of disinformation and interference,” as well as eight individuals and entities associated with Russia’s actions in Crimea. The White House said the sanctions were intended “to impose costs on Russia for actions by its government and intelligence services against U.S. sovereignty and interests.” (Politico / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC)

2/ Paul Manafort’s associate and former employee “provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy” during the 2016 election, according to the Treasury Department. Konstantin Kilimnik was one of 16 people sanctioned for attempting to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election at the direction of the Kremlin. Kilimnik also “sought to promote the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the Treasury Department statement read. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on 2016 Russian election interference assessed that Kilimnik was a Russian intelligence officer, who worked with Manafort as a lobbyist for the pro-Russia president of Ukraine. Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager. (CNBC / Just Security / Axios / Washington Post)

3/ The House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend the creation of a commission to study the issue of paying reparations to the descendants of slaves in the U.S. The commission would also consider a “national apology” for the harm caused by slavery. It’s the first time the committee has acted on the decades-long effort to advance the measure to the full House. Neither chamber of Congress, however, has committed to a floor vote. (NBC News / New York Times / USA Today / CBS News)

4/ The House Committee on Oversight and Reform advanced legislation to make D.C. the 51st state. The full House is expected to pass the Washington, D.C. Admission Act – possibly as soon as next week – for the second consecutive year. The bill, however, is likely to face significant hurdles in the Senate where it needs the support of 60 senators to advance. (Washington Post)

5/ Democrats introduced legislation to expand the Supreme Court from nine justices to 13. “The court is broken, and make no mistake about it,” Sen. Edward Markey said. “The court is broken because Sen. Mitch McConnell, his Senate Republican colleagues, and Donald Trump broke it.” Nancy Pelosi, however, said she has “no plans to bring it to the floor,” adding that she supports Biden’s recent move to create a commission to study possible expansion of the Supreme Court. (NBC News / Politico / CBS News / CNN / ABC News)

6/ Biden reportedly hasn’t raised the Trump-era refugee cap because of political optics. One Democratic aide said Biden has not yet signed off on the refugee program because he wants to preserve his options. White House press secretary Jen Psaki, meanwhile, said Biden was committed to raising the refugee ceiling, but refused to provide a timeline. In February, Biden’s State Department said it planned to expand the Trump cap – set at 15,000 refugees – to up to 62,500. As of March 31, only 2,050 refugees had been allowed to resettle in the U.S, putting the Biden administration on track to accept the fewest number of refugees this year of any modern president – including Trump. (CNN)

Day 85: "We stand for democracy."

1/ The U.S. Capitol Police inspector general found that the agency’s leaders failed to adequately prepare for the Jan. 6 attack despite being warned that “Congress itself is the target.” In a 104-page document, Michael Bolton criticized the way the Capitol Police prepared for and responded to the violence, finding that “heavier, less-lethal weapons,” including stun grenades, “were not used that day because of orders from leadership.” The IG report also found that some police equipment was at least 20 years old, including riot shields that shattered on impact. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Reuters / NPR)

  • The Justice Department won’t file charges against the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 riot. Babbitt attempted to breach a set of doors deep in the Capitol during the siege. (NBC News / Washington Post)

2/ Hundreds of U.S. corporations and executives signed on to a statement opposing “any discriminatory legislation” that would make it harder for people to vote. “We stand for democracy,” the statement reads. “We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.” The statement comes as Republicans have tried to enact new, restrictive voting rules in almost every state. Senior Republicans, including Trump and Mitch McConnell, have also called for companies to stay out of politics. (Bloomberg / New York Times / NBC News / CNBC)

3/ The former Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter. Kim Potter resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department Tuesday. Under Minnesota law, a person convicted of second-degree manslaughter can face up to 10 years behind bars and a fine of up to $20,000. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ The Senate will take up the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act. The bill intends to combat violence against Asian Americans by designating a Justice Department employee to expedite the review of hate crimes reported to police during the pandemic. The Stop AAPI Hate organization documented at least 3,795 attacks from last March 2020 to February 2021. At least 60 senators are needed to advance the legislation, which would require bipartisan support. (Reuters / NPR)

5/ The House Judiciary Committee will vote on legislation to create a commission to study the implications of slavery and develop reparations proposals for African Americans. If approved by the committee, as expected, it would set up a floor vote on the measure. The legislation has been stalled in the House for nearly 30 years. (NPR / CBS News / Washington Post)

6/ Matt Gaetz’s associate has been cooperating with the Justice Department since last year. Joel Greenberg has been providing investigators with information about encounters he and Gaetz had with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex. Federal prosecutors are investigating allegations that Gaetz had sex with an underage girl who was 17 at the time, as well as with women who were provided drugs and money in violation of sex trafficking and prostitution laws. (New York Times / CNN)

Day 84: "Abundance of caution."

1/ The CDC and the FDA recommended a “pause” in the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine after six women developed an “extremely rare” disorder involving blood clots and one died. More than 6.8 million people in the U.S. have received the vaccine without any other serious adverse reactions. In a statement, the two health agencies said that the move to temporarily halt administration of the shots was out of an “abundance of caution.” Scientists will examine possible links between the vaccine and the blood clot disorder and determine whether the FDA should continue to authorize the use of the vaccine or modify the authorization. The White House said the pause would “not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan” to administer 200 million shots by the end of April. White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients added that the “Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than 5% of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date.” (New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

2/ Biden nominated Robert Santos to head the U.S. Census Bureau. If confirmed by the Senate, Santos would be the first person of color to permanently lead the agency. Santos, a third-generation native Mexican American, currently serves as the vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute and as the president of the American Statistical Association. (NPR / Washington Post)

3/ Biden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 – the 20th anniversary of the attacks that first drew the country’s into its longest war. In an agreement with the Taliban, the withdrawal extends the U.S. troop presence past the May 1 deadline set by the Trump administration. The 2021 threat assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies reported that a peace deal was unlikely and that “the Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support.” Since October 2001, more than 2,200 U.S. troops have died and another 20,000 have been wounded. There are roughly 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan now, as well as an additional 7,000 foreign coalition forces. American troop levels reached a high of 100,000 troops in August 2010. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / CNN)

4/ Biden called on Putin to “de-escalate tensions” following a Russian military buildup at Ukraine’s border, saying the U.S. would “act firmly in defense of its national interests.” Russia has stationed the highest number of troops along Ukraine’s border since 2014. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, meanwhile, said the U.S. would increase its military presence in Germany by about 500 soldiers. Biden also suggested meeting Putin “in a third country” in the coming months. (New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / Politico / CNN)

5/ Iran will begin enriching uranium to 60% purity for the first time after an attack on one of its key nuclear facilities. Iran blamed Israel for the attack, which they said caused a blackout and damaged centrifuges. Israel has not publicly admitted or denied a role in the explosion, and the White House asserted that “the U.S. was not involved in any manner. We have nothing to add on speculation about the causes or the impacts.” Iran’s foreign minister, however, warned that the attack could hurt ongoing negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. Weapons-grade levels requires uranium enriched to around 90% purity. (Associated Press / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

6/ The police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright resigned. Kim Potter had been an officer with the Brooklyn Center Police Department for 26 years. The city’s police chief, Tim Gannon, also resigned. Yesterday, Gannon said he believed that Potter was attempting to use a Taser on Wright, but instead pulled her firearm, fired a single, fatal shot into Wright’s chest after she repeatedly yelled “Taser!” (Washington Post / New York Times / USA Today / NPR / CNBC)

Day 83: "Accidental discharge."

1/ The White House put the creation a national police oversight commission on hold, despite Biden’s campaign pledge to establish one within his first 100 days. Instead, the administration is moving forward with its efforts to pass the police reform bill named after George Floyd, who was killed after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee to Floyd’s neck for seven minutes and 46 seconds. Chauvin’s murder trial is currently ongoing. The White House said national civil rights organizations and police unions counseled the administration that a commission was not necessary and redundant. (Politico / CNN)

2/ Biden called for an investigation into the police officer who shot and killed a 20-year-old Black man in a Minneapolis suburb. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said the officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright shouted “Taser!” but then fired a handgun instead. “The question is: was it an accident? Was it intentional? That remains to be determined by a full blown investigation,” Biden said. Gannon, meanwhile, said it was his “belief” that the officer intended to use their Taser during a traffic stop, but instead shot Wright, saying “This appears to me, from what I viewed, and the officer’s reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge.” After the officer fired, she is heard on video saying, “Holy shit. I just shot him.” Wright was killed about 10 miles from where George Floyd was killed by Derek Chauvin last year, and hours before the 11th day of Chauvin’s murder trial was set to begin. (New York Times / Associated Press / Star Tribune / ABC News / CNN / Axios /

3/ The U.S. administered 4.6 million vaccine doses on Saturday – a single-day record. The country has now averaged 3.1 million doses per day over the past week. Meanwhile, the U.S. is reporting 70,000 new coronavirus infections per day on average over the past week, a figure that’s above July’s peak of 67,000 cases. (CNBC)

  • 38.9% of U.S. Marines have declined Covid-19 vaccinations.(CNN)

4/ Michigan’s average daily case count jumped about seven times since February. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky called on the state “to close things down,” rebuffing a request from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for the federal government to send more vaccines. “If we try to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan, we would be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work, to actually have the impact,” Walensky said. “The answer is not necessarily to give vaccine. The answer to that is […] to go back to our basics […] to shut things down, to flatten the curve, to decrease contact with one another, to test to the extent that we have available to contact trace.” (Axios / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNBC)

5/ Biden nominated the Tucson police chief to lead Customs and Border Protection. If confirmed, Chris Magnus – a critic of the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies – would be responsible for contending with the biggest increase in migrants arriving at the southwest border in two decades. Magnus also opposed Trump’s efforts to make Tucson a “sanctuary city.” Biden also said he intends to nominate Ur Jaddou as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

  • The Biden administration secured agreements with Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala to secure their borders and slow the number of migrants arriving at the U.S. border. (CNN / New York Times)

6/ The Biden Justice Department refused to disclose documents from the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated thousands of migrant families at the U.S. border. The documents, requested by the lawyers representing separated families, include emails between Trump officials and minutes of high-level meetings during the planning of the policy. Among the unreleased documents is the agenda from a May 2018 meeting that included a show of hands vote by Trump officials on whether to separate families. (NBC News)

7/ The U.S. has admitted 2,050 refugees at the halfway point of this fiscal year, putting the Biden administration on track to accept the fewest number of refugees this year of any modern president – including Trump. Eight weeks ago Biden promised to reverse Trump-era immigration policies, to rebuild and enhance federal programs to resettle refugees, and to raise the annual cap on refugee admissions to 125,000 for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, up from Trump’s limit of 15,000. Biden, however, hasn’t signed what is known as a presidential determination to make those changes official. At the current pace and without the reversal of Trump’s policies, the Biden administration will admit about 4,510 refugees – less than half of the figure admitted in Trump’s final year. (Washington Post)

Day 80: "Out of whack."

1/ Biden created a bipartisan commission to study adding seats to the Supreme Court. Biden said the group has 180 days to produce a report on court expansion, term limits, and other “recommendations as to how to reform the court system, because it’s getting out of whack.” The executive order also mandates that the group holds public meetings and take input from a range of stakeholders. Biden previously said he’s “not a fan” of adding additional seats to the Supreme Court in order to alter its ideological balance, which currently has a 6 to 3 conservative tilt. Meanwhile, Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the court’s three liberals, recently warned against expanding the Supreme Court, saying its authority depends on “a trust that the court is guided by legal principle, not politics.” (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / NPR)

2/ The White House released Biden’s $1.52 trillion budget request for 2022, calling for significant increase in spending aimed at fighting poverty and climate change, while keeping defense spending relatively flat. The budget outline would increase overall spending on discretionary programs by $118 billion (about 8% above last year’s levels), while defense spending would see an increase of $12.3 billion (1.7%), and other domestic programs would get a 15.9% boost. Administration officials said the budget request was “complimentary” to Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan. (Washington Post / NPR / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNN)

3/ Former Trump administration appointees privately celebrated successfully influencing the CDC’s scientific reports on the coronavirus. New documents show that former Health and Human Services senior adviser Paul Alexander shared two examples of the CDC bowing to his pressure and changing language in their scientific reports to more closely align with Trump’s political messages about the pandemic. “Small victory but a victory nonetheless and yippee!!!” Alexander wrote in one email to then-HHS public affairs chief Michael Caputo on Sept. 9, 2020. (Washington Post / CNN)

4/ The CDC said the U.S. is seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases linked to youth sports. Between January and March, Michigan saw 291 cases stemming from youth sports teams, while in Minnesota at least 68 coronavirus cases were linked to participants in both school and club sports activities. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the increases in Michigan and Minnesota were “due, in part, to more highly transmissible variants.” The highly infectious B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K., recently became the dominate Covid strain in the U.S. (CNBC / CNN)

  • Pfizer requested that the FDA expand the emergency use of its Covid-19 vaccine to adolescents aged 12 to 15. (CNBC)

5/ The White House “border czar” will step down at the end of the month despite the administration struggling to address the flow of immigration from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Roberta Jacobson, the former ambassador to Mexico, said her appointment on the National Security Council as the border coordinator was always intended to last for only about 100 days. Biden tapped Kamala Harris last month to lead the government’s diplomatic efforts with that region. (New York Times)

6/ Matt Gaetz sent accused sex trafficker Joel Greenberg $900 in May 2018, who then – using the same app – sent three young women money totaling $900. In the memo field of one of the Venmo payments, Gaetz instructed Greenberg to “hit up____,” using the nickname for one of the girls. The House Ethics Committee announced it was opening an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Gaetz. The House probe comes amid a Department of Justice investigation into Gaetz’s alleged relationship with a 17-year-old girl and whether she was paid to travel for sex, which could violate federal sex-trafficking laws. Gaetz, meanwhile, hired two defense lawyers to represent him in the investigations. One of the lawyers represents the Trump Organization in a separate criminal probe. (Daily Beast / Washington Post / CNBC / NBC News / Bloomberg)

Day 79: "International embarrassment."

1/ Biden announced executive actions to address what he called an “epidemic” of gun violence. Biden also pressed Congress to close background check loopholes, ban assault weapons, and strip gun manufacturers of liability protections, saying “much more needs to be done.” Biden said he asked the Justice Department to identify “immediate, concrete actions” he could take unilaterally. The Justice Department will also issue a proposed rule to curb so-called ghost guns and publish model “red flag” laws for states to use as guides. “We’ve got a long way to go, it seems like we always have a long way to go,” Biden said. “Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment.” (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / New York Times)

2/ More than 18,800 unaccompanied children crossed the southern border in March. The previous one-month high for unaccompanied minors arriving at the border was 11,861 – set in May 2019. U.S. authorities apprehended more than 172,000 migrants at the border in March – a 15-year high in monthly crossings. Of those, more than 100,000 were almost immediately expelled. (Politico / Washington Post)

3/ The Biden administration is spending at least $60 million per week to care for unaccompanied migrant teenagers and children in shelters operated by the Department of Health and Human Services. The cost of emergency shelter sites is more than 2.5 times higher than permanent shelters “due to the need to develop facilities quickly and hire significant staff over a short period of time,” a spokesman for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families said, adding that the average daily cost per child is “approximately $775 per day based on past experience.” (Washington Post)

4/ Justice Department lawyers still cannot find the parents of 445 children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border by the Trump administration. The parents of 61 separated migrant children have been located since February. (New York Times)

5/ Joe Manchin will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster under any circumstances and suggested that he would also be opposed to using budget reconciliation process to push major aspects of Biden’s agenda through Congress. “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation,” Manchin wrote in an op-ed. As a result, 10 Republicans would be needed to join all Democrats in the 50-50 Senate to pass major pieces of legislation. (CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)

6/ Investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office seized financial records from the former daughter-in-law of the Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer. Jennifer Weisselberg was married to Barry Weisselberg — the son of Allen Weisselberg — from 2004 to 2018. District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office took possession of three boxes and a laptop as part of a grand jury subpoena. Jennifer Weisselberg turned over all records she possessed of her ex-husband’s bank accounts and credit cards, plus his statements of net worth and tax filings. Separately, the Trump Organization hired an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent it in the Manhattan prosecutors’ investigation into possible bank, tax or insurance fraud by the Trump and the Trump Organization. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

7/ One of Matt Gaetz’s associates, who faces a sex trafficking charge, is expected to plead guilty and will likely cooperate with federal prosecutors. Investigators are looking into a Bahamas trip Gaetz allegedly took in late 2018 or early 2019 and whether he violated sex trafficking or prostitution laws. Joel Greenberg’s possible cooperation with the Justice Department could provide investigators with key details. Specifically, investigators are trying to determine if the escorts were illegally trafficked across state or international lines for the purpose of sex with Gaetz. Greenberg introduced Gaetz to women he found through websites that connect people who are willing to go on dates in exchange for gifts and allowances, which feature women looking for “sugar daddy” relationships with wealthy men. Greenberg’s lawyer, Fritz Scheller, said his client was “uniquely situated” to help prosecutors and was seeking a deal “with the least exposure possible.” Scheller added: “I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.” (New York Times / CBS News / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / NBC News)

  • Matt Gaetz privately asked the White House for blanket pre-emptive pardons from Trump for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed. The request came in the final weeks of Trump’s term when Gaetz was already under investigation over whether he violated sex trafficking laws. Trump, meanwhile, said Gaetz “has never asked me for a pardon.” (New York Times / Politico)

Day 78: "Good faith negotiations."

1/ The CDC said the coronavirus variant first identified in the U.K. is now the dominant strain in the United States. The variant, known as B.1.1.7, is 50% more contagious than others and now accounts for about 27% of cases in the U.S. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that the newer strain is more transmissible among younger people and that new outbreaks in the U.S. have been linked to youth sports and day care centers. (NPR / NBC News / Washington Post / CNBC)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~132,776,000; deaths: ~2,881,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,908,000; deaths: ~559,000; fully vaccinated: ~19.4%; partially vaccinated: ~33.1%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Biden signaled that he was open to “good faith negotiations” with Republicans on his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, but insisted he would “not be open to doing nothing. Inaction is simply not an option.” When asked if he would consider a lower corporate tax rate than 28%, as his plan currently calls for, Biden replied: “I’m willing to listen to that. We’ve got to pay for this,” noting that there are “many other ways we can do it.” The Treasury Department, meanwhile, outlined a proposed tax increase on businesses that, if enacted, would raise $2.5 trillion in revenue over 15 years, meant to offset the costs of the infrastructure package. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

3/ Biden will announce new executive actions to curb gun violence on Thursday. While the extent of tomorrow’s announcement is unclear, Biden is expected to require background checks on buyers of so-called ghost guns – homemade or makeshift firearms that lack serial numbers. (Politico / CNN)

4/ The U.S. and Iran agreed – through intermediaries – on a plan to try to get both countries back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. During a meeting with the current members of the deal, all parties agreed to establish a working group to focus on how to get the U.S. back to the deal by lifting economic sanctions imposed or reimposed after Trump pulled out of the accord in May 2018. Another working group would focus on how to get Iran back into compliance with the accord’s limitations on nuclear enrichment and stockpiles of enriched uranium. (New York Times)

5/ More than 500,000 Americans signed up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace between mid-February and the end of March. The Biden administration initially opened a “special enrollment period” for everyone on HealthCare.gov for people to buy insurance through May 15. The period was later extended until Aug. 15. (HuffPost)

6/ The National Republican Congressional Committee is warning donors who opt out of recurring monthly donations that “we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR.” A tool provided by WinRed, a for-profit Republican donation platform, prechecks the box to enroll donors into repeating monthly donations by default. Donors who proactively uncheck the box are threatened with being labeled a “DEFECTOR.” The prechecked box is the same tactic that the Trump campaign used, which resulted in complaints of fraud to banks and credit card companies. (New York Times)

Day 77: "Irritating."

1/ All adults in the U.S. should be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine by April 19, almost two weeks sooner than Biden’s original May 1 deadline. All but two states – Oregon and Hawaii – are already set to meet the new target date. “That doesn’t mean they will get it that day, that means they can join the line that day if they have not already done that beforehand,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. As of last week, about half of states had already opened vaccinations to everyone 16 and older, which is expected to rise to 36 states by the end of this week. The Biden administration also said that 150 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered to Americans. (CNN / NBC News / NPR / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~132,132,000; deaths: ~2,866,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,832,000; deaths: ~557,000; fully vaccinated: ~19.0%; partially vaccinated: ~32.6%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned government agencies, private businesses, and organizations that receive state funding from creating “vaccine passports,” saying Covid-19 vaccinations are voluntary and that no one should have to disclose private health information as a condition of engaging in normal activities. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order last week banning businesses from requiring customers to show proof they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to get service. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has said “the government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential” because it doesn’t want vaccine passports “used against people unfairly.” Instead, the administration will provide guidance for private-sector development of credentials. (Texas Tribune / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

3/ The nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian ruled that Democrats could use budget reconciliation to advance more of Biden’s agenda with a simple majority. Democrats previously used budget resolution to pass the American Rescue Plan. “I always would prefer to do legislation in a bipartisan way, but we have to get big, bold things done,” Chuck Schumer said. “And so we need to have as many options as possible if Republicans continue to obstruct.” All 50 Democratic senators would need support the approach to advance Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs package this fiscal year without a single Republican vote. Democratic moderates like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, however, have advised against using the reconciliation process a second time. They also oppose eliminating the filibuster to pass all bills with 51 votes, instead of 60, arguing that the supermajority requirement forces lawmakers to seek broad compromises. (Politico / Vox / New York Times / CNBC / Axios / NPR / ABC News / Associated Press / CBS News)

4/ Mitch McConnell warned businesses critical of state voting restrictions to “stay out of politics.” McConnell called it “quite stupid” for corporations to speak out politically on “incendiary” issues, like Georgia’s new voting law, but said he supports corporations making political donations. McConnell suggested that businesses have “a right to participate in the political process,” specifically noting that he’s “not talking about political contributions.” He added that “Republicans drink Coca-Cola, too, and we fly, and we like baseball. It’s irritating one hell of a lot of Republican fans.” (The Guardian / ABC News / CNN / Forbes / Washington Post)

5/ Arkansas’ Republican-controlled House and Senate enacted a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender children. The override comes a day after Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s vetoed the bill. The state is the first to criminalize gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth. (Associated Press / Axios)

6/ The Education Department will hold a public hearing on how schools should handle sexual misconduct cases as part of an overhaul of Title IX regulations. During the presidential campaign, Biden promised to dismantle Trump-era rules on sexual misconduct that afforded greater protections to students accused of assault. Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos formalized rules for how universities and K-12 schools should handle complaints of sexual assault and misconduct in 2020, which created protections for the accused, including the presumption that they’re innocent and the right to cross-examine their accusers. After the hearing, the department will begin the formal process to rewrite the Title IX rules. (NBC News / New York Times)

7/ Carbon dioxide topped 420 parts per million in the atmosphere for the first time – the halfway point to doubling preindustrial CO2 levels. The Mauna Loa Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii began collecting CO2 measurements in the late 1950s. At the time, atmospheric CO2 concentration sat at around 315 parts per million. On Saturday, the daily average hit 421.21 parts per million – the first time in recorded history that atmospheric CO2 concentration has been so high. Previously, it had never exceeded 420 parts per million. (Washington Post)

Day 76: "Consequences."

1/ A record 4 million people in the U.S. received a coronavirus vaccine on Saturday. Over the past seven days, an average of 3.1 million shots have been administered each day and about 1 in 4 adults are now fully vaccinated, Andy Slavitt said, the White House’s senior adviser for Covid-19 response. While the daily coronavirus death toll in the U.S. is at its lowest level in months, the seven-day average of new daily cases rose 7% to 64,000, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. In Michigan, daily new cases are up 39% compared with a week ago. Experts, however, disagree on whether the U.S. is on the cusp of a “fourth wave” or seeing the last gasps of the 14-month pandemic. Michael Osterholm, an adviser to Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, predicted that the next two weeks would bring “the highest number of cases reported globally since the beginning of the pandemic.” Osterholm called Michigan’s 8,400 new cases a “wake-up call to everyone.” Meanwhile, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the FDA under Trump, said he did not foresee a fourth wave, saying “I think with the rate of vaccination that we’re having right now […] I think that there’s enough immunity in the population that you’re not going to see a true fourth wave of infection.” (Washington Post / CNBC / New York Times / CNN / Axios)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~131,594,000; deaths: ~2,857,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,756,000; deaths: ~556,000; fully vaccinated: ~18.8%; partially vaccinated: ~32.4%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Nearly 200 companies signed a joint statement against proposals that threaten to restrict voting access in dozens of states. “We call on elected leaders in every state capitol and in Congress to work across the aisle and ensure that every eligible American has the freedom to easily cast their ballot and participate fully in our democracy,” the statement said. In Texas, there are currently 49 restrictive bills that have been introduced in the state legislature. Senate Bill 7 would ban overnight early voting and drive-through early voting. The state House is also considering its own voting bill, House Bill 6, which would prohibit election officials from sending absentee ballot applications to voters without their requests. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, warned corporations of “serious consequences” if they use their economic power to act like “a woke parallel government.” McConnell called corporate opposition to restrictive new voting laws the “Outrage-Industrial Complex.” Since 2015, corporations have donated more than $50 million to state lawmakers to state legislators supporting voter suppression bills, including $22 million during the 2020 election. (Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp complained about Major League Baseball’s decision to pull the All-Star Game out of the state over new voting restrictions Georgia’s Legislature recently approved. Kemp argued that the move would economically hurt the state. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, meanwhile, turned down an invitation to throw the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener, citing MLB’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta. (New York Times / Politico)

3/ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for a global minimum corporate tax rate, saying she wants to halt an international “race to the bottom” by countries competing to lure corporations with lower taxes. As part of the Biden administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs proposal, the U.S. would raise the domestic corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%, raise the international minimum rate for foreign income from U.S. companies to 21% from 10.5%, and make it harder for foreign-owned companies with U.S. operations to benefit from shifting profits to low-tax countries. Trump lowered the U.S. tax rate from 35% to 21%, arguing that U.S. companies were incentivized to relocate offshore. Yellen criticized Trump’s unilateralist strategy, saying the U.S. “isolated ourselves and retreated from the international order that we created.” (Axios / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

4/ The Trump campaign refunded 10.7% of the money it raised online in 2020 – $122 million. Donors complained of fraud to banks and credit card companies after the Trump operation had used multiple prechecked boxes to enroll them into recurring contributions. In total, the Trump and party operation raised $1.2 billion. (New York Times)

5/ The Supreme Court vacated an appeals court ruling that Trump could not block critics from his Twitter feed. In 2019, a lower court ruled that Trump’s account was a public forum because he had used it to regularly communicate with the public and that he could not exclude people based on their viewpoints. Both sides in the suit agreed that the case is moot since Trump is no longer president and has been banned from Twitter. In a 12-page concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the court will need to examine the power of tech companies, calling it is “unprecedented” to have “control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties.” (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / USA Today / CBS News)

6/ Arkansas’ Republican governor vetoed an anti-transgender health care bill that would make it illegal for transgender minors to receive gender-affirming “procedures.” Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the legislation “a product of the cultural war in America,” even though he believed the bill was “well-intended.” The Arkansas State Legislature could still override Hutchinson’s veto of the bill. (New York Times / CNN)

poll/ 40% of Americans disapprove of the Biden administration’s handling of the unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, while 24% approve, and 35% have no opinion. (Associated Press)

poll/ 55% of Republicans believe the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was led by left-wing activists “trying to make Trump look bad.” 51% of Republicans also believe that the riot was “mostly peaceful, law-abiding Americans.” And, 55% of Republicans believe Trump’s 2020 election loss was the result of illegal voting or election rigging. (Reuters)

Day 73: "Low risk."

1/ One U.S. Capitol Police officer was killed and another hospitalized after a man rammed his car into a security checkpoint outside the Capitol. The suspect was shot and killed after he “exited the vehicle with a knife in hand” and began “lunging” at the officers. The incident comes two weeks after the outer perimeter fence to the Capitol complex was removed. Investigators do not believe the incident was “terrorism related,” Chief Robert Contee of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department said. (CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / ABC News)

2/ The CDC relaxed its travel guidance, saying Americans fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can resume domestic and overseas travel “at low risk to themselves.” The CDC guidance recommends they continue to wear a mask, avoid crowds, maintain social distance, and frequently wash their (damn) hands. Individuals do not need to get a test before or after domestic travel and do not need to self-quarantine on return, as long as they follow public health measures. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, however, said Americans should still try to avoid travel because Covid-19 cases are rising across the country. “We must balance this guidance with the fact that most Americans are still not vaccinated,” Walensky said. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~129,989,000; deaths: ~2,833,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,591,000; deaths: ~554,000; fully vaccinated: ~16.4%; partially vaccinated: ~30.7%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

3/ More than 171,000 migrants were taken into custody along the U.S. southern border in March, including a record number of unaccompanied minors. It was the highest monthly total since 2006. (Washington Post / CNN)

4/ Major League Baseball pulled its All-Star Game out of Atlanta due to Georgia’s restrictive new voting law. “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred said in a statement. (Axios / NBC News)

5/ The U.S. and Iran agreed to resume negotiations on restoring the 2015 nuclear agreement. The two countries will negotiate through intermediaries in Vienna next week to try to bring both back into compliance with the nuclear accord. In 2018, Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement to rein in Iran’s nuclear program, calling is “the worst deal ever negotiated.” Iran responded by exceeding enrichment and research limits. White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the upcoming indirect talks “a welcome and potentially constructive early step.” (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

6/ The Justice Department investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz is centered on whether he and an indicted Florida politician solicited women online for sex in exchange for cash, gifts, or drugs. Investigators believe Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last year for sex trafficking and other crimes, met women on websites that connects people for dates in exchange for gifts, fine dining, travel, allowances, etc. The Justice Department inquiry is also investigating whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl and whether she received gifts. The sex trafficking charge against Greenberg involved the same girl. It’s a violation of federal child sex trafficking law to provide someone under 18 with anything of value – like meals, hotels, drugs, alcohol or cigarettes – in exchange for sex. A conviction carries a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. Gaetz has also allegedly showed other lawmakers – while on the House floor – photos and videos of nude women he said he had slept with. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News)

Day 72: "Based on a lie."

1/ The Texas Senate passed new voting restrictions in the state. Senate Bill 7 would limit extended early voting hours, prohibit drive-thru voting, and make it illegal for election officials to send applications to vote by mail to voters, even if they qualify. The bill now heads to the House for consideration. (Texas Tribune / NBC News / Associated Press)

2/ Georgia’s Republican-controlled House stripped Delta Air Lines of a tax break worth tens of millions of dollars as punishment for its CEO’s criticism of the state’s new voting restrictions. The bill, however, was not taken up by the state Senate before it adjourned and has not become law. Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, called the bill “unacceptable” and that it “does not match Delta’s values.” Bastian added: “The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections. This is simply not true.” Delta Air Lines is Georgia’s largest employer. Coca-Cola, UPS, Home Depot, Porsche Cars North America, and the Atlanta Falcons have also criticized the legislation. (Forbes / CNN / Reuters / NPR / CNBC / New York Times)

  • State lawmakers have introduced 361 restrictive election bills in 47 state legislatures – a 43% increase since mid-February. (NBC News)

3/ About 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were accidentally ruined after a manufacturing contractor mistakenly mixed the vaccine with ingredients from the AstraZeneca coronavirus shot. The company still met its goal of shipping 20 million doses to the U.S. in March, and has promised 100 million doses by the end of May. (New York Times / Politico / NPR)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~129,335,000; deaths: ~2,822,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,533,000; deaths: ~554,000; fully vaccinated: ~15.9%; partially vaccinated: ~30.0%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine provides high levels of protection against Covid-19 six months after the second dose, with no serious safety concerns, according to the ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial. The trials also suggest that the vaccine is effective against the variant that first emerged in South Africa. (NBC News / CNN)

4/ Biden asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to conduct a review of his legal authority to cancel student debt. White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Biden will make a decision on how to proceed once he reviews the memo. “He’ll look at that legal authority, he’ll look at the policy issues around that, and then he’ll make a decision,” Klain said. “He hasn’t made a decision on that, either way, in fact, he hasn’t yet gotten the memos that he needs to start to focus on that decision.” (Politico / NBC News)

5/ Another 719,000 people applied for unemployment benefits – up 61,000 from last week. Prior to the pandemic, jobless claims typically ran below 220,000 a week. (Politico / Bloomberg)

Day 71: "Hard-fought progress."

1/ Biden unveiled his $2.25 trillion jobs, infrastructure, and green energy proposal to reshape the U.S. economy. Over the next eight years, the plan would rebuild 20,000 miles of roads, repair 10 of the most economically important bridges in the country, eliminate lead pipes from the nation’s water supply, update and modernize the electric grid, fund the construction of about a half-million electric vehicle charging stations, expand high-speed broadband across the entire country, upgrade and build new schools, and more. The White Houses said the spending would generate millions of new jobs as the country shifts away from fossil fuels and accelerates the fight against climate change. The White House also said the proposal would pay for itself over 15 years by raising the corporate tax rate to 28%, increasing the global minimum tax paid to 21%, ending federal tax breaks for fossil fuel companies, and ramping up tax enforcement. Nancy Pelosi said she wants to have the House pass the package by July 4. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NPR / Politico / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Pentagon reversed Trump-era policies that banned transgender people from serving in the military. The new department policies will “allow transgender people who meet military standards to enlist and serve openly in their self-identified gender, and they will be able to get medically necessary transition-related care authorized by law.” Biden also issued his first presidential proclamation to formally celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility – an international day to commemorate trans lives and accomplishments. Biden said that despite the “hard-fought progress” for transgender and gender non-conforming people to “live openly and authentically,” trans people “still face systemic barriers to freedom and equality,” such as higher rates of violence, harassment and discrimination. (Associated Press / Axios / NPR / NBC News)

3/ Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, behind heart disease and cancer. More than 3.3 million deaths were reported in the U.S. last year, a 15.9% increase from 2019. (CNBC / CNN)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~128,558,000; deaths: ~2,810,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,448,000; deaths: ~552,000; fully vaccinated: ~15.5%; partially vaccinated: ~29.4%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is 100% effective in preventing Covid-19 in children ages 12 to 15. A clinical trial found no symptomatic infections among vaccinated the children, and there were no serious side effects. The data, however, have not yet been reviewed by independent experts. (New York Times / CNBC)

  • Republicans dismissed the idea of “vaccination passports”, which are designed to ensure that people can safely return to normal activities, such as flights, concerts, and indoor dining. The effort by some Republicans to create doubt about a vaccine passport program is centered on the idea that the federal government will try to control the population. (Washington Post)

4/ The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis reviewing the federal response to Covid-19 obtained documents that show the Trump administration “pursued a haphazard and ineffective approach to procurement” of personal protective equipment and medical supplies at the start of the pandemic. Specifically, Peter Navarro, who served as Trump’s trade adviser, warned Trump on March 1, 2020, to acquire medical supplies and invest in coronavirus tests, and other supplies to fight the virus, according to a memo. After Trump ignored Navarro’s recommendations, he pursued his own strategy to acquire supplies, committing more than $1 billion in federal funds with little oversight, which has since prompted multiple probes by multiple congressional committees. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

5/ The Biden administration dismissed more than 40 outside experts at the EPA, who were appointed by Trump. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the decision to oust researchers with The Science Advisory Board and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee was necessary to “ensure the agency receives the best possible scientific insight.” (Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNBC)

6/ Russian hackers stole thousands of State Department officials’ emails last year. A previously unreported breach revealed that Russians accessed emails in the department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. While it’s unclear whether the hack of State Department emails was part of the SolarWinds espionage campaign, it does not appear that the classified network was accessed. (Politico)

7/ Two Capitol Police officers sued Trump for the physical and emotional injuries they suffered as a result of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. In the lawsuit, James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, accused Trump of inciting the violent mob with baseless claims of voter fraud and that Democrats were “trying to steal” the election. About 140 D.C. and Capitol police officers were injured during attacks, and two officers who had been on duty at the Capitol later died by suicide. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico / ABC News)

8/ A federal judge ruled that a non-disclosure agreement that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign required employees to sign was “invalid and unenforceable.” Jessica Denson, who had worked on Trump’s campaign as a phone bank supervisor and Hispanic outreach coordinator, claimed that she was the target of abusive treatment and sexual harassment. The Trump campaign later won a $50,000 award against Denson for violating the non-disparagement agreement. Denson then sued on behalf of herself and other Trump campaign aides who had been forced to sign confidentiality agreements, asking that they be invalidated as too broad and illegal in New York because they lasted indefinitely. (New York Times / Politico)

9/ Prosecutors working for the Manhattan district attorney subpoenaed the personal bank records of the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer and are scrutinizing gifts he received from Trump. While Allen Weisselberg has not been accused of wrongdoing, the effort appears to be an attempt to gain his cooperation to help prosecutors understand the inner workings of the company. Prosecutors are also examining whether Trump and the company manipulated property values to obtain loans and tax benefits. (New York Times)

10/ The Justice Department is investigating whether Rep. Matt Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and violated federal sex trafficking laws by paying her to travel with him. Attorney General William Barr opened the investigation in the final months of the Trump administration. Trump and several senior Justice Department officials were notified of the investigation. Gaetz called the investigation part of a scheme involving “false sex allegations” to extort his family for $25 million, adding that he and his father, Don Gaetz, have been cooperating with the FBI by “wearing a wire.” Gaetz, meanwhile, has privately told confidants that he’s considering not seeking re-election and possibly leaving Congress early for a job at Newsmax. (New York Times / Politico / Axios)

Day 70: "Trailblazing."

1/ Biden announced a “trailblazing” set of 11 judicial nominees who “reflect the full diversity of the American people — both in background and in professional experience.” Biden’s list of nominees include nine women, and nine people of color. Among the group, Ketanji Brown Jackson was nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals seat vacated by Merrick Garland when he became U.S. attorney general. Jackson is considered a potential Supreme Court contender. Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, pledged to quickly confirm Biden’s first batch of nominees in order to “significantly mitigate the influence of Donald Trump’s unqualified, right-wing judges.” (New York Times / NBC News / Politico / NPR / The Guardian / Washington Post)

2/ Biden signed a two-month extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, which was set to expire on March 31. The extension also gives the Small Business Administration an additional 30 days to process loans submitted before the new May 31 deadline. (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ A group of 21 Senate Democrats urged Biden to include recurring direct payments and an extension of jobless benefits in his infrastructure and economic recovery plan. “This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads,” the senators wrote. “Families should not be at the mercy of constantly-shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions.” Biden is scheduled to unveil his $3 to $4 trillion recovery package on Wednesday, which is expected to be split into two pieces of legislation. (CNBC / CNN / The Hill)

4/ WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the joint mission to study the origins of the coronavirus in China didn’t adequately analyze the possibility of a lab leak before deciding the virus most likely spread from bats to humans via another animal. “Although the team has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation,” Tedros said in a statement. The U.S. and 13 other countries, meanwhile, voiced frustration with the level of access China provided in a joint statement, saying the mission’s report “lacked access to complete, original data and samples.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki also criticized China’s lack of cooperation, saying “they have not been transparent. They have not provided underlying data. That certainly doesn’t qualify as cooperation.” (Bloomberg / Washington Post)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~127,988,000; deaths: ~2,798,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,379,000; deaths: ~551,000; fully vaccinated: ~15.1%; partially vaccinated: ~28.9%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

5/ Several civil rights groups have filed at least three legal challenges to Georgia’s new voting limitations, arguing that curtailing voting access represents “intentional discrimination” against the state’s Black voters. One lawsuit, filed by the Georgia NAACP and other groups, said the law “is the culmination of a concerted effort to suppress the participation of Black voters and other voters of color by the Republican State Senate, State House, and governor.” Black residents in Georgia are 88% more likely to be below poverty level and therefore less likely to have the required forms of photo ID. (New York Times / NBC News)

6/ Attorney General Merrick Garland directed Justice Department employees to examine “the disturbing trend” of violence against Asian Americans, and to give priority to investigating and prosecuting hate crimes and incidents. The Biden administration also reinstated and expanded the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to include coordination across federal agencies in responding to anti-Asian bias and violence. (Bloomberg / CBS News / The Hill)

7/ A New York appeals court allowed for a defamation lawsuit against Trump to move forward. Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” sued Trump for defamation after he denied her allegations that he sexually assaulted her in 2007. The case had been delayed until Trump was out of office because, as a sitting president, he was immune from a lawsuit brought in state court. (CNN)

poll/ 68% of Americans are satisfied with the Covid-19 vaccine process – up 34 percentage points since January. 74% of Americans say they are willing to receive a Covid-19 vaccine – up from 50% in September. (Gallup)

poll/ 52% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president. 65% approve of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, 51% approve of his handling of the economy, and 34% approve of his handling of immigration. (NPR)

Day 69: "This is deadly serious."

1/ CDC Director Rochelle Walensky warned of “impending doom” as Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths rise throughout the U.S. The seven-day average for new daily Covid-19 cases is nearly at 60,000 – up 10% from the prior week. Hospitalizations are up to about 4,800 a day, from 4,600 a week earlier. And, deaths have also started to rise again. Walensky attributed the rise to the spread of more contagious variants, increased travel, and governors lowering restrictions too quickly. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope,” Walensky said, “but right now I’m scared.” (NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~127,443,000; deaths: ~2,788,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,292,000; deaths: ~550,000; fully vaccinated: ~14.9%; partially vaccinated: ~28.6%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • The CDC extended the national ban on evictions through the end of June. The CDC initially released an order in September barring eviction through the end of 2020, citing a 1944 public health law. Congress extended it in December, and the Biden administration renewed it again through March 31. (CNBC / Politico)

  • A WHO-China report on the origins of Covid-19 concluded that the most likely scenario of the coronavirus jumping from bats to humans was through another animal and that the lab leak theory is “extremely unlikely.” It is not clear, however, if China will allow outside experts direct access to the data. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “We’ve got real concerns about the methodology and the process that went into that report, including the fact that the government in Beijing apparently helped to write it.” (Associated Press / New York Times)

  • Documentary: Dr. Deborah Birx said she received a “very uncomfortable” and “very difficult” phone call from Trump following her Covid-19 warnings. “Well, I think you’ve heard other conversations that people have posted with the president,” Birx said as part of a CNN documentary, “Covid War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out.” “I would say it was even more direct than what people have heard. It was very uncomfortable, very direct and very difficult to hear.” (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

2/ Biden announced that 90% of adults will be eligible to get a coronavirus vaccine starting April 19. Additionally, the federal government will increase the number of pharmacies participating in the pharmacy vaccination program from 17,000 to 40,000 locations. The U.S. is on pace to administer 3 million vaccines a day. Biden, meanwhile, urged states that have eased mask and social distancing restrictions to reinstate them, saying “the war against Covid-19 is far from won,” “this is deadly serious […] If we let our guard down now we could see the virus getting worse not better.” (Bloomberg / CNN / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 90% effective at preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic infections after two doses in study of real-life conditions. One dose prevented 80% of infections by two weeks after vaccination. (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The Biden administration expects the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border to increase from more than 16,000 currently to as many as 26,000 by September. Until this month, the record for children taken into custody by Border Patrol officials was 11,475 in May 2019. (Wall Street Journal / Axios)

4/ Biden plans to expand wind farms along the East Coast in an effort to jump-start the growth of a zero-emission power source to fight climate change. The plan would generate 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by the end of the decade, which is would power more than 10 million homes and cut 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Biden administration will investigate Trump-era political interference on the science that informed policy. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said that it will form a task force to review federal government policies and make sure they “prevent improper political interference” from affecting research or data. The task force also aims to prevent “the suppression or distortion of scientific or technological findings.” (New York Times / CNN)

6/ Russian hackers gained access to email accounts belonging to Trump’s Homeland Security chief and members of the department’s cybersecurity staff, who were responsible for identifying threats from foreign countries. The accounts were accessed as part of the SolarWinds hack, which included at least nine federal agencies and dozens of private companies. (Associated Press)

poll/ 72% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including 53% of Republicans who approve of Biden’s handling of vaccine distribution. (ABC News)

poll/ 38% of Americans say Trump made progress toward solving the major problems facing the country, while 37% say he made things worse, 15% said Trump tried but failed to solve the nation’s problems, and 10% said he did not address them. (Pew Research Center)

Day 66: "Outrageous."

1/ Georgia’s governor signed new voting restrictions into law. The overhaul of the state’s election laws would impose rigid absentee voter identification requirements, limit drop boxes, shortens state runoffs, and expand the Legislature’s power over elections. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the measure into law just over an hour after the bill passed both chambers of the legislature, calling it “common sense” legislation that ensure Georgia’s elections “are secure, accessible and fair.” Dozens of state legislatures are considering similar restrictions on voting following the 2020 presidential election. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / New York Times)

2/ Biden condemned the new voting restrictions in Georgia as “outrageous,” “un-American,” and “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.” Three voting-advocacy groups, meanwhile, sued Georgia state officials over the new law, claiming that it will unconstitutionally restrict voting rights of all Georgians while disproportionately impacting Black voters. “Georgia has a long and egregious history of implementing election laws that hinder Black and minority citizens’ ability to participate equally in the political process,” the groups said in the complaint. The defendants include Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and four members of the State Election Board. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

3/ Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, alleging that the network intentionally aired false claims that the voting company had rigged the 2020 election in order to boost ratings. Dominion argued that Fox News and several of its on-air personalities promoted baseless claims that the company had manipulated its machines to benefit Biden in the election, and allowed falsehoods by their guests to go unchecked. Those same claims were repeatedly pushed by Trump’s lawyers, Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell, during multiple appearances on Fox programs. Dominion has also sued Giuliani, Powell, and the MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell, for defamation, seeking damages of more than $1 billion. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned of another surge in Covid-19 cases as the nation’s seven-day average of new cases per day jumped 7% over the last week. New hospitalizations are also up “slightly” at roughly 4,700 admissions per day. “I remain deeply concerned about this trajectory,” Walensky said. “And we know from prior surges that if we don’t control things now, there is a real potential for the epidemic curve to soar again.” (CNBC / ABC News)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~125,865,000; deaths: ~2,762,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,130,000; deaths: ~548,000; fully vaccinated: ~13.8%; partially vaccinated: ~27.0%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Johnson & Johnson will deliver 11 million doses of its single-shot Covid-19 vaccine to the U.S. next week. The U.S. received 4 million doses of the vaccine shortly at the end of February. (NBC News)

  • The U.S. administered 3.4 million Covid-19 doses in a single day, breaking the previous record of 2.62 million doses. (Axios)

  • The White House canceled a 50-person indoor party the Interior Department was planning to celebrate Secretary Deb Haaland’s confirmation after senior administration officials raised concerns that it could become a superspreader event. (Politico)

5/ Democrats introduced the “DEJOY Act” to block a piece of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year restructuring plan for the U.S. Postal Service. The Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round Act would prohibit the Postal Service from lengthening mail-delivery windows and require that it to adhere to current “service standards.” Under DeJoy’s plan, about 30% of first-class mail would take four to five days to arrive from the current standard of no more than three days. (Washington Post)

Day 65: "Chaos as a consequence."

1/ The Biden administration expects to distribute 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in its first 100 days – double its original goal that was surpassed last week. (Politico / NPR)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~125,235,000; deaths: ~2,750,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,059,000; deaths: ~546,000; fully vaccinated: ~13.5%; partially vaccinated: ~26.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Another 684,000 people filed for initial unemployment claims last week – the lowest since mid-March of last year but still at historically high levels. In total, some 18.95 million people continue to collect jobless benefits. (ABC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • The Senate voted 92-7 to extend the Paycheck Protection Program for another two months, sending the bill to Biden for his signature after the House passed the legislation last week. (Politico)

  • Black farmers received $20.8 million out of nearly $26 billion in payments under the Trump administration’s coronavirus relief for American farmers – about 0.1% of the overall package. (Washington Post)

3/ The U.S. could have limited coronavirus deaths to under 300,000 had it adopted widespread mask, social distancing, and testing protocols while awaiting a vaccine, according to a new research paper. UCLA economics professor Andrew Atkeson projected that the final U.S. death toll will be close to 670,000, and that without a vaccine that number would be close to 1.27 million. (Reuters)

4/ The White House will direct $10 billion to expand coronavirus vaccine access for low-income, rural, and minority communities. About $6 billion will go to 1,400 federally funded community health centers that serve high risk patients. An additional $3 billion will go to education and outreach programs by local health and community organizations to increase vaccination access and acceptance in high-risk communities. (NBC News)

  • FEMA will reimburse families for funeral expenses of loved ones who died last year from Covid-19. FEMA set aside $2 billion dollars to reimburse individuals and households for funeral expenses between Jan. 20 and Dec. 31, 2020, paying up to $9,000 in expenses for individual funerals and a maximum of $35,000 for families who lost multiple members. (ABC News)

5/ Gov. Andrew Cuomo arranged special access to state-administered coronavirus testing for family members and other influential people. New York law prohibits state officials from using their positions to secure privileges for themselves or others. (New York Times / Washington Post)

6/ The Texas attorney general’s office refused to release messages Ken Paxton sent or received while in Washington for the Jan. 6 pro-Trump rally that led to the Capitol riot. Paxton’s office is supposed to enforce the state’s open records laws under the Texas Public Information Act, which guarantees the public’s right to government records. Instead, the office has refused to release copies of Paxton’s emails and text messages. (Texas Tribune)

7/ The Senate confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services – the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate. (NPR)

8/ The Georgia House passed a sweeping election overhaul bill to limit voting access in the state. The Republican-led effort would rewrite many of the state’s voting regulations, including limiting drop boxes, increasing absentee voter ID requirements, prohibiting distributing food and most beverages to people waiting in line to vote, and stripping the secretary of state of some authority. The 100-75 party-line vote sends the bill to the state Senate where Republican lawmakers are expected to pass the final bill next week before the end of the session. Biden, meanwhile, called efforts to limit voting rights “sick” and “un-American,” saying he’s “worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / New York Times / Talking Points Memo / Politico / CNN)

9/ Joe Manchin said he had “legitimate” concerns over some of the provisions in the For the People Act, the most significant federal election and voting rights expansion in a generation. Manchin urged Democrats to take a bipartisan approach, saying “pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the U.S. government.” To pass in the Senate, Democrats will likely need to persuade all 50 Democrats to change the filibuster rules to overcome uniform Republican opposition to the legislation. Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, however, have said they are no votes on getting rid of the filibuster. Biden, meanwhile, said the filibuster was being “abused in a gigantic way” and signaled that he could support changing the Senate’s rules in order to pass key parts of his agenda. “We’re going to get a lot done. And if we have to — if there’s complete lockdown and chaos as a consequence of the filibuster, then we’ll have to go beyond” the talking filibuster. (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post)

Day 64: "An existential threat."

1/ Kamala Harris will takeover efforts to address illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. Harris will work in the near term to slow the flow of “irregular migrants” by addressing “the root causes” that prompt them to leave their home countries. Long-term, Harris will be responsible for establishing a “strategic partnership” with Mexico and countries in the Northern Triangle – El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala – that is “based on respect and shared values, to enhance prosperity, combat current corruption, and strengthen the rule of law.” (ABC News / Politico / New York Times / Axios / CNBC)

  • Biden transition officials said the Trump administration didn’t increase capacity for child migrants despite warnings until just days before the inauguration. “They were sitting on their hands,” one transition official said. “It was incredibly frustrating.” (NBC News)

2/ Gun violence killed nearly 20,000 Americans in 2020, making it the deadliest year for gun violence in at least two decades. The next-highest recent year for shooting deaths was 2017, when nearly 16,000 people were killed. In 2020, people purchased about 23 million guns – a 64% increase over 2019 sales. (Washington Post)

3/ Biden extended the special enrollment period for purchasing Affordable Care Act health plans by three months, until Aug. 15. The second extension will help enrollees take advantage of the enhanced subsidies in the Covid-19 relief package. (NBC News / Washington Post)

4/ Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell clashed during a Senate Rules Committee hearing on a Democratic plan to overhaul federal elections and expand voting rights. The legislation under consideration is S. 1, the For the People Act, which would make it easier to vote, enact new campaign finance laws, and end partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts. It passed the House earlier this month with no Republican support, but faces steep odds of passing in the 50-50 Senate, where it will need at least 60 votes to advance. “Today, in the 21st century, there is a concerted, nationwide effort to limit the rights of citizens to vote and to truly have a voice in their own government,” Schumer said, calling Republican state legislators’ efforts to restrict voting access an “existential threat to our democracy” reminiscent of Jim Crow segregationist laws. “Shame! Shame! Shame!” McConnell told the Rules Committee that the bill “is a solution in search of a problem,” which would create an “implementation nightmare” for election administrators and officials, and is “an invitation for chaos.” Joe Manchin, meanwhile, demanded that any voting rights legislation be bipartisan, saying “We should not at all attempt to do anything to that will create more distrust and division.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / USA Today / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Members of the Oath Keepers coordinated with the Proud Boys and other paramilitary groups in advance of Trump’s Jan. 6 rally. According to new evidence filed by the Justice Department, Kelly Meggs, the Florida leader of the Oath Keepers, said in private messages on Facebook that he coordinated with Proud Boys leadership, saying “I organized an alliance between Oath Keepers, Florida 3%ers, and Proud Boys. We have decided to work together and shut this shit down.” A week later, Meggs sent a private message that said: “Trump’s staying in, he’s gonna use the emergency broadcast system on cell phones to broadcast to the American people. Then he will claim the insurrection act […] Then wait for the 6th when we are all in dc to insurrection.” (Politico)

  • Trump and Trump Jr. hired an attorney to represent them in the lawsuit filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell, which alleges that Trump and his associates “directly incited the violence” during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by putting out “a clear call to action” and then “watched approvingly as the building was overrun.” (Daily Beast)

6/ The U.S. dropped 11 points in a global ranking of political rights and civil liberties over the last decade. The U.S. earned 83 out of 100 possible points, putting it on par with countries like Panama, Romania, and Croatia, and behind countries such as Argentina and Mongolia. A decade ago, the U.S. received a score of 94 out of 100. (The Guardian)

Day 63: "An American issue."

1/ Biden called on Congress to “immediately pass” legislation that would close loopholes in gun background checks and ban the purchase of assault weapons a day after the mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, which left 10 dead. “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour to take common sense steps that will save the lives in the future,” Biden said, adding that background checks “should not be a partisan issue — it is an American issue […] We have to act.” Earlier this month, the House passed a pair of bills aimed at strengthening the nation’s gun laws. One would expand background checks and the other would extend the waiting period for background checks to 10 days from three days. Both bills face opposition in the Senate, where they don’t not currently have the 60 votes needed to advance. (USA Today / NPR / New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / Washington Post)

  • The Boulder attack was the seventh mass shootings in the past week across the United States. On Tuesday, March 16, eight people, including six Asian women, were killed at three spas in Atlanta, Georgia; Five people were shot in a drive-by shooting in Stockton, California on March 17; Four people were taken to the hospital after a shooting outside of Portland, Oregon on March 18; Five people were shot inside a club in Houston, eight people were shot in Dallas, and one person was killed and five others injured during a shooting in Philadelphia on March 20. (CNN)

2/ A Colorado judge blocked Boulder’s ban on assault weapons 10 days ago – the gunman used an AR-15 rifle he purchased six days ago. In 2018, following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the city of Boulder passed an ordinance banning the possession, transfer or sale of assault weapons, and large-capacity magazines. But on March 12, Boulder County District Judge Andrew Hartman sided with the plaintiffs (the Colorado State Shooting Association and Boulder-based Gunsport of Colorado), ruling that a 2003 state law banned cities and counties from restricting guns that are otherwise legal under federal and state law. (Washington Post / Denver Post / Associated Press / New York Times)

3/ The second-largest teachers union is “not convinced” it’s safe to reduce social distancing in schools to three feet between students. Last week, the CDC updated its guidance for social distancing in schools to prevent the spread of Covid-19 from six feet to three feet. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, citing studies of limited virus transmission from the WHO and the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the “updated recommendations provide the evidence-based roadmap to help schools reopen safely, and remain open, for in-person instruction.” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, however, said: “We are not convinced that the evidence supports changing physical distancing requirements at this time. Our concern is that the cited studies do not identify the baseline mitigation strategies needed to support 3 feet of physical distancing.” (CBS News)

4/ AstraZeneca’s recent Covid-19 vaccine trial results “may have included outdated information” that “provided an incomplete view of the efficacy” in its announcement touting its shot’s 79% effectiveness against the coronavirus, according to a statement by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. AstraZeneca unveiled its interim results on Monday without conducting the full analysis requested by the Data and Safety Monitoring Board. While the company announced its vaccine was 79% effective, the panel said it had seen data showing the vaccine may be 69 to 74% effective, and had “strongly recommended” that that information be included in the news release. “This is really what you call an unforced error,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said. “Because the fact is: This is very likely a very good vaccine, and this kind of thing does, as you say, do nothing but really cast some doubt about the vaccines and maybe contributes to the hesitancy.” (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / STAT News / Politico / ABC News)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~123,978,000; deaths: ~2,729,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,907,000; deaths: ~544,000; fully vaccinated: ~13.0%; partially vaccinated: ~25.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • The Biden administration is not confident Johnson & Johnson will meet its deadline to deliver 20 million coronavirus vaccines by the end of March. Johnson & Johnson shipped four million doses at the end of February and an another 1.2 million doses since. (CNN)

5/ Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year strategic plan for the U.S. Postal Service includes higher postage rates, slower services, and reduced post office hours. “Does it make a difference if it’s an extra day to get a letter?” DeJoy told the House Oversight and Reform Committee in February. “Because something has to change. We cannot keep doing the same thing we’re doing.” (NBC News / CNN / NPR / Washington Post)

6/ Lawyers for pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell claimed that “no reasonable person” would believe that her false conspiracies about widespread election fraud were “statements of fact.” Powell also asked a federal court to dismiss a $1.3 billion defamation suit filed against her by Dominion Voting Systems over her conspiracy theories. (CNBC / CNN / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

7/ The Trump administration impeded at least nine key oversight investigations, and 11 inspectors general or their senior aides said hostility to oversight reached unprecedented levels during Trump’s time in office. (Washington Post)

Day 62: "A fork in the road."

1/ Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended Biden’s immigration strategy, saying “the border is closed. We are expelling families, we are expelling single adults and we have made a decision that we will not expel young, vulnerable children.” Nearly 100,000 migrants were detained at the border in February. Mayorkas, in part, blamed Trump for the record number of migrants seeking entry into the country from Mexico and Central America, saying “there was a system in place in both Republican and Democratic administrations that was torn down during the Trump administration, and that is why the challenge is more acute than it ever has been before.” In 2019, the Trump administration cut more than $500 million in aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in an effort to slow the migration to the U.S. White House officials will travel to Mexico and Guatemala this week for what administration officials described as “ongoing discussions on how to manage an effective and humane plan of action on migration.” (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / NPR / CNBC)

  • 👑 Portrait of a President: Inside the Biden administration’s failure to contain the border surge. “The Biden administration is scrambling to control the biggest surge in 20 years, with the nation on pace for as many as 2 million migrants at the southern border this year — the outcome Biden said he wanted to avoid.” (Washington Post)

2/ More than 800 unaccompanied migrant children have been in Border Patrol custody for more than 10 days. The average time in custody is 130 hours, which exceeds the 72-hour legal limit. As of Saturday, Department of Health and Human Services was housing approximately 15,500 unaccompanied migrant minors, including more than 5,000 unaccompanied minors who are being held in a Customs and Border Protection tent holding facility not designed for long-term custody. (CNN / CBS News)

3/ The Biden administration secured hotel rooms to hold around 1,200 migrant families who cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The $86 million contract is for six months near border areas, including in Arizona and Texas. (Axios)

4/ Department of Homeland Security officials requested airplanes to transport migrants to states near the Canadian border for processing. Customs and Border Protection officials requested the air support from Immigration and Customs Enforcement after 1,000 members of families and unaccompanied minors crossed the Rio Grande on Friday. At the time, there were another 1,000 migrants that officials had been been unable to process. In recent days, CBP has used ICE planes to transport migrant families from the Rio Grande Valley, where facilities are overcapacity, to the El Paso area. (Washington Post)

5/ Border agents in the Rio Grande Valley were authorized to release adult migrants and families from custody before they have been given a date to appear in court. The move is “intended to mitigate operational challenges” by reducing the time immigrants spend in custody. Migrants are typically given a “notice to appear” before they are released or sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for detention. (NBC News)

6/ The U.S. seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases is up at least 5% in 27 states. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, meanwhile, said the U.S. could experience “another avoidable surge” as states lift restrictions too early, warning Americans to continue to wear masks, avoid crowds, and wait to travel, even if they’ve been vaccinated. Lifting restrictions is a “serious threat to the progress we have made,” Walensky said. “We are at a critical point in this pandemic, a fork in the road.” (CNBC / Bloomberg / Axios)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~123,546,000; deaths: ~2,721,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,856,000; deaths: ~543,000; fully vaccinated: ~12.8%; partially vaccinated: ~24.9%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club has been partially closed after some of its employees were infected with the coronavirus. Trump moved to Mar-a-Lago after leaving Washington in January. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

7/ AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine provided strong protection against Covid-19 in a large clinical trial. The AstraZeneca vaccine was 79% effective over all in preventing symptomatic infections, 80% effective in participants aged 65 and over, and 100% effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization across ages and ethnicities. The company plans to apply for emergency use authorization from the FDA in the first half of April. If authorized, it would be the fourth Covid-19 vaccine available in the U.S. (Associated Press / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

  • 💡 Why J&J’s shots aren’t reaching more arms. (Politico)

8/ The Justice Department said evidence from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol supports charges of seditious conspiracy against some defendants. Sedition is the crime of conspiring to overthrow the government. People who conspire to “oppose by force the authority” of the government or use force “to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States” can be charged with sedition. “I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” Michael Sherwin said, the federal prosecutor who had been leading the Justice Department’s inquiry. “I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that.” Sherwin also reiterated that prosecutors were examining Trump’s role in inciting the mob that marched to the Capitol. “It’s unequivocal that Trump was the magnet that brought the people to D.C. on the 6th. Now the question is, is he criminally culpable for everything that happened during the siege, during the breach?” Sherwin said. “We have people looking at everything.” Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, are preparing to start plea discussions with many of the more than 300 suspects charged in the riot. (New York Times / Washington Post)

9/ The House Oversight Committee held a hearing on legislation that the House passed last year to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state. Democrats argued that Washingtonians are treated as second-class citizens, performing the responsibilities of citizens but not receiving representation in Congress in return. Republicans, meanwhile, are uniformly opposed to the idea, claiming that the legislation violates the Constitution and accused Democrats of backing it in an attempt to improve their majorities in the House and the Senate. A new national poll finds that 54% of likely voters think D.C. should be a state, a record high level of support. (NBC News / New York Times / CBS News / Washington Post)

10/ The White House is considering a $3 trillion infrastructure and jobs package as part of Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda. That effort is expected to be broken into two parts, rather than trying to push a single package through Congress. One plank would be focused on infrastructure, roads, bridges, and several climate change initiatives. The other would be centered on reducing economic inequities through investments in paid leave, universal pre-K, and community college, and extending the Child Tax Credit. Advisers are expected to present the proposal to Biden this week. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC)

11/ The Education Department canceled $1 billion in student loans for 72,000 students defrauded by for-profit schools. The move reversed a Trump administration policy that had provided only partial relief. Former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos overruled department officials on student loan forgiveness in 2019, which Congress tried to overturn last March. Trump vetoed the measure. (Associated Press / Axios)

12/ Betsy DeVos earned at least $225 million in outside income while Trump’s education secretary. DeVos’s exact income is unclear because her income was reported in such wide ranges, with many assets being reported as “over $5 million” or “over $1 million.” (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington / Forbes)

Day 59: "Wasting time."

1/ The House passed two immigration bills that would establish a path to citizenship for roughly 3.4 million undocumented immigrants. The American Dream and Promise Act, which passed 228 to 197, would create a path for citizenship for the approximately 2.5 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, known as “Dreamers,” and others granted Temporary Protected Status for humanitarian reasons. The House also passed The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which could create a path for more than 1 million undocumented farm workers to apply for legal status. The bills are narrower than the comprehensive immigration package introduced in February, which would have created a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Neither bill, however, is likely to overcome the 60-vote threshold in the Senate. “Democrats [are] wasting time on a bill that could not be less timely or targeted to the issue at hand,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNBC / CNN / Bloomberg / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)

2/ More than 500 unaccompanied migrant children and teens have been held in jail-like detention centers for more than 10 days at the border. Under law, minors are allowed to be held for 72 hours in the Customs and Border Protection detention centers. (NPR)

3/ Biden urged Congress to “swiftly pass” the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act to address the rise in discrimination and violence against Asian Americans following the mass shooting that killed eight people, including six Asian woman. “While we do not yet know the motive, as I said last week, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing crisis of gender-based and anti-Asian violence that has long plagued our nation,” Biden said in a statement. The measure would increase Justice Department oversight of coronavirus-related hate crimes, expedite the federal response to the rise of hate crimes, provide support to state and local governments to improve hate crimes reporting, and ensure that information on hate crimes is more accessible to Asian American communities. (CNBC / The Guardian / Washington Post / Axios)

4/ The CDC revised its physical distancing requirements for children in school, from 6 feet to 3 feet. Teachers and adult school staff, however, must still adhere to the 6 feet guidelines. Masks remain mandatory for all. (ABC News / NBC News / Associated Press / CNN / Washington Post)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~122,080,000; deaths: ~2,696,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,715,000; deaths: ~541,000; fully vaccinated: ~12.0%; partially vaccinated: ~23.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • 52% of front-line healthcare workers have been vaccinated. (Washington Post)

5/ The FBI is investigating whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his aides gave false data on New York nursing home deaths to the Justice Department. The state initially released only the number of nursing homes residents who died of Covid-19, despite knowing that thousands of residents had died after being transferred to hospitals. The FBI has also questioned state officials about a provision in last year’s state budget that granted nursing homes and hospitals broad legal protections for care during the pandemic, which made it difficult for families of residents who died or were infected by the coronavirus to sue. (The City / New York Times)

6/ U.S. diplomats accused China of threatening world stability while Chinese officials alleged that America is a human rights hypocrite during the first high-level meeting between the two global powers. In his opening statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Beijing needed to return to a rules-based system and vowed to bring up “deep concerns” about China’s actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. China’s Yang Jiechi replied that the U.S. was being “condescending” and wasn’t “qualified to speak to China from a position of strength,” adding “We hope that the United States will do better on human rights” – a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. The public exchange was supposed to be a four-minute photo-op but it lasted more than hour as the two sides traded barbs. (NBC News / Politico / CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times / CBS News / Reuters)

7/ The White House asked several staffers to resign or work remotely after past marijuana use was discovered during their background checks – regardless of whether they had been in one of 14 states where the drug is legal. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that “only five people” are no longer employed at the White House after disclosing marijuana use. (Daily Beast / Politico / CNN)

Day 58: "Strings attached."

1/ The U.S. is on track to surpass Biden’s goal of administering 100 million Covid-19 shots by Friday. Just over 99 million shots have been administered since Biden took office, and the country is averaging nearly 2.5 million injections per day. 65% of people age 65 or older had received at least one shot and 36% have been fully vaccinated. The Biden administration is reportedly looking toward the middle of May to relax travel restrictions with Mexico and Canada, and on inbound international travel from the U.K., Europe, and Brazil. (NBC News / Politico / CNBC / Bloomberg)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~121,595,000; deaths: ~2,687,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,659,000; deaths: ~540,000; fully vaccinated: ~11.8%; partially vaccinated: ~22.7%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Biden agreed to send about 2.5 million of doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to Mexico. The announcement of the vaccine deal follows a recent call where Biden asked President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico whether more could be done to limit the flow of migrants coming to the border. Today, Mexico announced that it will limit travel across its northern and southern borders starting March 19, and deploy sanitary control measures at both borders to slow the spread of Covid-19. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the discussions over vaccines and border security were “unrelated” but also “overlapping.” When asked if the vaccine offer to Mexico had “strings attached,” Psaki replied that there were “several diplomatic conversations — parallel conversations — many layers of conversations” at play. The U.S. will also send about 1.5 million doses to Canada. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

3/ An inspector general’s report found no evidence to support a Pennsylvania postal worker’s claim that his supervisors had tampered with mail-in ballots during the presidential election. Richard Hopkins initially alleged that he overheard plans to backdate ballots received after Nov. 3 and pass them off as legitimate. Hopkins later released a sworn affidavit recanting those allegations. Lindsey Graham and other Republicans, however, repeatedly cited the initial allegation to press baseless claims of voter fraud in the election. (Washington Post)

4/ A dozen House Republicans voted against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to three police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol when it was attacked by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6. Several of the lawmakers objected to the use of the term “insurrectionists” in the resolution, while others objected to the use of the word “temple” to describe the Capitol. (Washington Post)

5/ 21 Republican-led states sued Biden for revoking the Keystone XL oil pipeline permit. The lawsuit alleges that Biden exceeded his authority to revoke the permit because of a 2011 provision that required Obama to approve the pipeline or issue a determination that it wasn’t in the national interest. Obama ultimately rejected the application, but Trump approved it. Biden then revoked the approval. Several of the states aren’t even near the proposed pipeline path. (NBC News)

6/ The Senate confirmed Xavier Becerra as health and human services secretary, the first Latino to lead the department. The vote was 50-49. Susan Collins was the only Republican to support Becerra’s nomination. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN)

7/ The Senate confirmed William Burns to be Biden’s CIA director. Ted Cruz had delayed Burns’ nomination in an effort to pressure the Biden administration to issue sanctions to stop the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany. After Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a “strong declaration” suggesting future sanctions, Cruz said he would no longer delay Senate confirmation. (Politico / CNN)

8/ New York prosecutors investigating Trump’s business practices sent new subpoenas to local governments near Trump’s Seven Springs as part of an inquiry into whether the value of the Westchester County property was improperly inflated to reduce his taxes. District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office has also subpoenaed material from people who worked with Trump to develop the property. Meanwhile, the Manhattan district attorney’s office is scheduled to meet again with Michael Cohen for the eighth time. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

9/ Putin wished Biden “good health” after he agreed that the Russian leader was a “killer.” Biden also pledged that the Kremlin is “going to pay” for Russian interference in the 2020 election, which was detailed in a declassified intelligence report. Russia recalled its Washington ambassador after Biden’s comments, and warned of the possibility of an “irreversible deterioration of relations.” (New York Times / Reuters / CNN)

Day 57: "Democracy is having a hard time functioning."

1/ Biden discouraged potential migrants hoping to enter the United States, saying “don’t come […] don’t leave your town or city or community.” More than 13,000 unaccompanied migrant children are currently in U.S. custody and the country is on pace to stop more migrants crossing the border than in the last 20 years. Republicans, meanwhile, have blamed the surge of migrants and unaccompanied minors at the southern border on Biden rescinding Trump’s immigration policies, including a program that returned asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases were being considered. (ABC News / CBS News / CNN / The Guardian / USA Today)

2/ Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified that the U.S.-Mexico “border is secure and the border is not open.” In a hearing held by the House Homeland Security Committee, Mayorkas defended the Biden administration’s approach to creating a “fair and humane” immigration system despite the administration struggling to accommodate a surge of unaccompanied minors at the border. Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, repeatedly called the situation a “crisis” and blamed Biden for mishandling immigration policy. “The situation is undoubtedly difficult,” Mayorkas said. “What the president is committed to and what I am committed to execute is to ensure that we have an immigration system that works and that migration to our country is safe, orderly and humane.” (CNN / Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The Biden administration limited what Border Patrol can share with the media about the migrant surge at the border. Officials said the restrictions are seen as an unofficial “gag order” that were communicated verbally – not through an official memo. Border Patrol officials were also told to deny all media requests for “ride-alongs” with agents and send all questions from the media to the press office in Washington for approval. (NBC News)

4/ Twenty-one Republican state attorneys general threatened to take action against the Biden administration over $350 billion set aside under coronavirus stimulus relief to help cities, counties, and states pay for the cost of the pandemic. In a seven-page letter, the Republican officials asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to clarify a provision in the $1.9 trillion stimulus law that prevents them from using the federal funds to deliberately reduce their revenue through local tax cuts. The law requires repayment if any of the money is spent in violation of that condition. The group claimed that the restrictions “would represent the greatest invasion of state sovereignty by Congress in the history of our Republic” — and they threatened to take “appropriate additional action” in response. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~121,003,000; deaths: ~2,676,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,594,000; deaths: ~538,000; fully vaccinated: ~11.5%; partially vaccinated: ~22.2%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Health and Human Services is directing $10 billion to increase Covid-19 testing in schools. Another $2.25 billion will support scaled-up testing in underserved populations and $150 million will be allocated to help get Covid-19 treatments to underserved communities. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • The CDC plans to update Covid-19 guidance for schools to reduce social distancing recommendations from 6 feet to 3 feet. A study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, compared infection rates in Massachusetts public schools with different physical distancing requirements. The research suggests that 3 feet may be as safe as 6 feet if everyone is masked. (CNBC)

  • Twenty-three out of 31 top posts at the Department of Health and Human Services are held by officials in acting capacities. Approval of Biden’s nominees have been held up in the Senate by Republicans. (New York Times)

  • Trump recommended that everyone get the Covid-19 vaccine, calling it “safe” and “something that works.” (CNN / NBC News)

5/ Senate Democrats introduced the For the People Act, a comprehensive voting reform and anti-corruption bill that was passed by the House earlier this month. Chuck Schumer said proposals to roll back voting access in several Republican-led states “smack of Jim Crow” and represent a threat to democracy, which would be countered by the legislation. The bill, however, faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where it would require at least 10 Republican votes to overcome a filibuster. Schumer added “everything is on the table […] Failure is not an option.” (Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN / Axios / Washington Post)

6/ Biden suggested that he supports reforming the filibuster after Mitch McConnell threatened to go “scorched earth” if Democrats move all legislation to a simple majority vote in the Senate. “I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster,” Biden said, adding that he preferred a return to the “talking filibuster” (a requirement that a senator holds the floor in order to delay a bill). “It’s getting to the point where, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning.” At least nine Democratic senators, however, have said they aren’t ready to scrap the supermajority requirement for most legislation yet. (ABC News / Politico / New York Times / NPR)

7/ Biden promised that Putin “will pay a price” for his efforts to undermine the 2020 election following a declassified intelligence report that Russian meddled in the election with the aim of “denigrating” Biden’s candidacy. When asked what the consequences would be, Biden replied: “You’ll see shortly.” (CNN / Politico / Reuters / The Guardian)

Day 56: "Exacerbating divisions."

1/ Putin authorized operations to interfere in the 2020 election by conducting an influence campaign aimed at “denigrating” Biden and the Democratic Party, while “supporting Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the U.S.,” according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. No foreign government, however, attempted to change votes or alter ballots. Putin used proxies linked to Russian intelligence services to promote “influence narratives – including misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden – to U.S. media organizations, U.S. officials, and prominent U.S. individuals, including some close to former President Trump and his administration.” The U.S. intelligence community also found that Iran conducted influence operations and that China “considered but did not deploy influence efforts” intended to change the outcome of the election. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Axios / NBC News)

2/ The Army initially rejected Washington, D.C.’s request for the National Guard ahead of the Jan. 6 rally that led to the Capitol riot, saying the military shouldn’t be needed to help police with traffic and crowd management, unless more than 100,000 demonstrators were expected. The Army ultimately approved the mission and provided 340 members of the National Guard to help with street closures and crowd control as requested. (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The U.S. is on pace to see the largest number of migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in two decades. The surge has created a backlog in Border Patrol stations, with more than 4,200 children in custody and 2,943 of those children being held over the 72-hour legal limit. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, however, insisted that the “difficult” situation was under control. Mayorkas defended the administration’s policy of allowing unaccompanied teens and children to remain in the country – rejecting the Trump-era policy of immediately sending children back to Mexico or other countries – but said “We are expelling most single adults and families.” As the Biden administration struggles to find space for the surge in migrant children and teenagers, many are being forced to sleep on gym mats with foil sheets and go for days without showering. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Associated Press)

4/ Mitch McConnell threatened to go “completely scorched earth” if Democrats weaken or eliminate the filibuster. McConnell promised to “break the Senate” and turn the chamber into a “100-car pileup” with procedural delays if Democrats nix the 60-vote threshold for most legislation. Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, meanwhile, said the filibuster was “making a mockery of American democracy” and holding the Senate “hostage” by turning “the world’s most deliberative body into one of the world’s most ineffectual bodies.” Democrats need 51 votes to kill off the filibuster, but Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have said they oppose to changing the rules, as has Biden. Democratic priorities, including voting-rights legislation, background checks for gun purchases, a national $15 minimum wage, and immigration overhaul, will all likely face Republican filibusters. (New York Times / Axios / Bloomberg / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

5/ A Democratic senator suggested that the FBI’s 2018 background check of Brett Kavanaugh may have been “fake.” During his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and several other women. Trump agreed at the time to order the “FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation” into the allegations against Kavanaugh. Then-FBI Director Christopher Wray, however, told the Senate that the White House had limited the Kavanaugh investigation. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse called on the newly-confirmed attorney general, Merrick Garland, to facilitate “proper oversight” into questions about how thoroughly the FBI investigated Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. (The Guardian)

6/ The Senate confirmed Deb Haaland to lead the Interior Department, making the congresswoman the first Native American ever to serve as a Cabinet secretary. Haaland will oversee the agency that manages the federal government’s relations with tribes, as well as 20% of U.S. land, and nearly a quarter of the nation’s oil and gas production. (Politico / ABC News)

7/ U.S. intelligence assessed that North Korea could be preparing to carry out their first weapons test since Biden took office. Kim Jong Un’s sister, meanwhile, warned the U.S. to “refrain from causing a stink” if it wants to “sleep in peace” for the next four years. The Biden administration had tried to reach out to North Korea through multiple channels since last month to start a dialogue on Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs. The U.S. never received a response. (CNN / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

Day 55: "Risky business."

1/ Biden deployed FEMA to the U.S.-Mexico border to help shelter and transfer thousands of unaccompanied migrant teens and children, who are currently being held in Customs and Border Protection detention facilities and tent shelters. There are roughly 4,000 children currently in CBP custody – a 25% increase from a week earlier. The Biden administration has struggled to expand Health and Human Services shelter capacity, where about 8,500 teens and children are currently being held. Unaccompanied minors continue to arrive more quickly than HHS officials can match them with sponsors. The current average time children spend in facilities designed to hold adults for 24 hours, has increased to 117 hours – 45 hours longer than the legal limit. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that a CBP facility is “no place for a child,” but that border agents are “working around the clock in difficult circumstances to take care of children temporarily in our care.” The White House, meanwhile, has declined to call the situation a “crisis” or label it a national emergency, which Trump did in 2019 to circumvent Congress and fund his border wall with money lawmakers refused to give him. (New York Times / NBC News / ABC News / Washington Post / Vox / CNN)

2/ FEMA will temporarily house up to 3,000 migrant teenage boys at a Dallas convention center in an effort to alleviate overcrowding at border facilities in South Texas. The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center will be used for up to 90 days starting this week. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

3/ The CDC’s Covid-19 guidance during the Trump administration was not grounded in science or “primarily authored” by staff, according to a review ordered by Biden’s CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, as part of her pledge to restore public trust in the agency. The review found that some guidance “used less direct language than available evidence supported,” “needed to be updated to reflect the latest scientific evidence,” and “presented the underlying science base for guidance inconsistently.” (Washington Post / CNN)

4/ The CDC warned that the U.S. could see another surge in Covid-19 cases as states relax restrictions and Americans return to airports for spring break travel. “I’m pleading with you, for the sake of our nation’s health,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “Cases climbed last spring, they climbed again in the summer, they will climb now if we stop taking precautions when we continue to get more and more people vaccinated.” The Transportation Security Administration, however, has screened more than 1 million people every day since Thursday – the highest volumes in a year. Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, warned states against the “risky business” of eliminating public health measures, saying even though things are headed “in the right direction,” caseloads were still too high to declare “victory” by eliminating restrictions. “Don’t spike the ball on the five-yard line. Wait until you get into the end zone. We are not in the end zone yet.” (CNBC / NBC News / CNN / CBS News)

5/ The Justice Department arrested and charged two men with assaulting the Capitol Police officer who died after being sprayed with a chemical by rioters storming the Capitol on Jan. 6. While it’s not clear whether Brian Sicknick died because of his exposure to the spray, Julian Elie Khater and George Pierre Tanios were charged with nine counts, including assaulting three officers with a deadly weapon. The Justice Department said that the rioters were recorded on video talking about attacking officers, including Sicknick. (Washington Post / NPR / New York Times)

6/ The U.S. has about 1,000 more troops in Afghanistan than it has disclosed, which brings the actual number of troops to around 3,500. The Trump administration and the Taliban agreed last year to remove all remaining American forces by May 1. Biden, meanwhile, hasn’t decided whether U.S. troops will stay beyond May 1 or leave, ending America’s longest war after more than 19 years. (New York Times)

7/ The Defense Department’s inspector general’s office concluded its long-delayed investigation into Michael Flynn and his acceptance of money from Russian and Turkish interests before joining the Trump administration, a potential violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. The inspector general’s investigation was opened in April 2017, but was put on hold for more than three years. After Trump’s pardon, however, the Justice Department allowed the inspector general’s office to resume its investigation. The watchdog’s office closed its investigation one week after the Biden administration took office and forwarded its findings to the Army. (Washington Post)

8/ The White House is expected to propose a suite of federal tax increases on corporations and the wealthy – the first major hike in almost 30 years – to fund key initiatives like infrastructure, climate, and expanded help for poor Americans. The tax hikes would be included as part of infrastructure and jobs packages and would likely include repealing portions of Trump’s 2017 tax law, which benefited corporations and wealthy individuals. The planned increases reportedly include: raising the corporate tax from 21% to 28%; increasing the income tax rate on people making more than $400,000; expanding the estate tax; paring back tax preferences on pass-through businesses such as LLCs; and setting up a higher capital gains tax rate for individuals making at least $1 million. The Tax Policy Center found that the plan would raise around $2.1 trillion over 10 years. (Bloomberg)

9/ Officials found the audio recording of Trump’s call urging Georgia’s top investigator to find evidence of voter fraud in the trash folder on her device. The audio file of the Dec. 23 call between Trump and investigator Frances Watson was discovered as part of a public records request. State officials originally said they did not think audio of the call existed. It’s also not clear why Watson moved the audio of the call to her trash folder. (CNN)

Day 52: "Changes the paradigm."

1/ Biden directed states to make all adults eligible for coronavirus vaccinations no later than May 1, and set a July 4th goal to “mark our independence from this virus.” The White House has promised that the country will have enough vaccine supply for all adults by the end of May – meaning not all adults will be able to get a vaccine on May 1, but instead they will be able to get in line for one. Biden also said he was doubling the number of pharmacies and the number of federally run mass vaccination centers to administer doses. The U.S., meanwhile, has administered more than 100 million Covid-19 shots so far, with 35 million people have been fully vaccinated and 66 million having received at least a first dose. The U.S. is now averaging of over 2 million doses a day. And at a Rose Garden event celebrating the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, Biden said the legislation “changes the paradigm. For the first time in a long time, this bill puts working people in this nation first.” (NBC News / NPR / Washington Post / Vox / CBS News / Bloomberg / New York Times / CNBC / The Guardian)

2/ The Justice Department expects to charge at least 100 more still-unidentified people connected to the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol. Describing the investigation as “one of the largest,” “most complex” investigations and prosecutions in U.S. history, federal prosecutors have charged 320 people so far, executed more than 900 search warrants, and have received more than 15,000 hours of surveillance video. Authorities have also reviewed more 1,600 electronic devices, 210,000 tips, and 80,000 witness interviews. Prosecutors asked a judge for 60-day delays across a series of Capitol riot cases, saying it “will take time” to organize the evidence and make it available to suspects and their defense attorneys. (ABC News / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post)

3/ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jerry Nadler, and at least 13 other House Democrats from New York called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign. Six women have accused Cuomo of sexual assault or harassment, and allegations have also emerged that his administration covered up Covid nursing home deaths. “Unfortunately, the Governor is not only facing the accusation that he engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment and assault,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “There is also the extensive report from the Attorney General that found the Cuomo administration hid data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths from both the public and the state legislature.” The six harassment allegations are being investigated by state Attorney General Letitia James, while Democrats in the state Assembly initiated an impeachment investigation that will be carried out concurrently with the AG probe. Cuomo, meanwhile, addressed the allegations at a news conference, saying “I did not do what has been alleged, period […] I’m not going to resign, I was not elected by the politicians, I was elected by the people.” (ABC News / NPR / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / The Guardian)

4/ The Biden administration will end a Trump-era policy that allowed the Department of Homeland Security to deport caregivers for unaccompanied migrant children. The 2018 policy allowed DHS to identify the immigration status of would-be caregivers and deport those who were in the country illegally. Officials said they hoped that revoking the policy would encourage more parents to come forward to claim their children, which would also help alleviate crowding at Health and Human Services facilities. (NBC News)

5/ The Manhattan district attorney leading the criminal investigation against Trump and the Trump Organization will not run for re-election. The decision by Cyrus Vance means that if he decides to indict Trump, the next district attorney will inherit the investigation and be responsible for prosecuting Trump. (New Yorker / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN)

Day 51: "This dark tunnel."

1/ Biden signed the $1.9 trillion economic relief package into law – his first major legislative achievement in office. “This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,” Biden said during signing. The American Rescue Package authorizes a third round of one-time stimulus payments up to $1,400 for most Americans, extends enhanced unemployment benefits, and changes the tax code to benefit families with children. The package also unlocks new federal aid to help schools reopen, aid cities and states with budget shortfalls, provide billions in aid for small businesses, and assists in the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine. The U.S. has officially allocated over $5 trillion in funding for Covid-19 relief. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / Bloomberg / The Guardian)

2/ Some Americans could receive coronavirus stimulus checks as soon as this weekend, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “This is, of course, just the first wave,” Psaki said, adding “payments to eligible Americans will continue throughout the course of the next several weeks.” (CNBC)

3/ Biden will address the nation tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern, marking the one-year anniversary of the day the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, and Covid-19 restrictions that forced the U.S. into lockdown. Biden is expected to use his prime-time remarks to “address the American people and talk about what we went through as a nation this past year.” Biden previewed his remarks on Wednesday, saying “I’m going to talk about what comes next […] explain what we will do as a government and what we will ask of the American people. There is light at the end of this dark tunnel. But we cannot let our guard down now or assume the victory is inevitable. Together, we’re gonna get through this pandemic and usher in a healthier and more hopeful future.” (ABC News / Bloomberg / CNN)

4/ The U.S. death rate increased 15% last year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic – the deadliest year in recorded U.S. history. Covid-19 killed nearly 400,000 people in the U.S. in 2020, making it the third-leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. (Politico)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this pandemic.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~118,358,000; deaths: ~2,626,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,207,000; deaths: ~531,000; fully vaccinated: ~10.0%; partially vaccinated: ~19.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • All living former presidents and first ladies — except the Trumps — appeared in a public service announcement urging Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The Trumps received their coronavirus vaccinations privately at the White House in January, which wasn’t disclosed until recently. (Politico)

  • Trump issued a statement on presidential letterhead demanding credit for the privately developed coronavirus vaccines, saying “I hope that everyone remembers when they’re getting the Covid-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) Vaccine, that if I wasn’t president, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all. I hope everyone remembers!” (ABC News / Washington Post)

5/ More than 3,700 unaccompanied migrant children are in Border Patrol custody. One Homeland Security official described the border facilities as “absolutely” overcrowded, adding several were “severely overcapacity.” Border Patrol apprehended nearly 800 unaccompanied migrant children yesterday – nearly double current 450 daily average. After being taken into custody, unaccompanied children are required by law to be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours. Kids, however, are currently staying in Border Patrol custody more than four days on average. (CNN)

6/ The House passed two bills bills aimed at strengthening the nation’s gun laws. The bills would expand background checks on the purchase or transfer of firearms and close the “Charleston loophole,” which allows gun sales to proceed without a completed background check if three businesses days have passed. The bill, however, faces opposition in the Senate, where it does not currently have the 60 votes needed to advance. (USA Today / NPR / New York Times)

  • 84% of voters support universal background checks, while 11% oppose the policy. 77% of Republicans, 82% of independents, and 91% of Democrats approve of universal background checks. (Newsweek)

7/ In a newly released December phone call, Trump pressured Georgia’s Secretary of State chief investigator to find evidence of fraud with absentee-by-mail ballots, telling her that she would be “praised” for overturning results that were in favor of Biden. “Whatever you can do […] it would be — it’s a great thing,” Trump told Frances Watson, adding that “When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised […] something bad happened.” At the time, Watson was investigating an audit of more than 15,000 signatures in Cobb County, which resulted in no evidence of fraudulent mail-in ballots. The six-minute call was first reported in January and released in full on Wednesday. (Wall Street Journal / NPR / CNN)

  • Michael Cohen has met with Manhattan district attorney’s office prosecutors at least seven times related to the investigation into Trump’s taxes and finances. (NBC News)

8/ Former Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller said he believes that Trump’s speech on the morning of Jan. 6 caused a mob to violently attack the U.S. Capitol later that day, saying “Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the president’s speech? I think it’s pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened.” As the acting defense secretary at the time, Miller was in charge of the military’s response and has since been criticized for the Department of Defense’s slow deployment of the National Guard. While Miller has rejected the criticism, calling the speed of the response normal, he added that political climate at the time as a “constant drumbeat” of “potential illegal, immoral, and unethical activities.” (Vice News)

9/ A bipartisan group of senators introduced the “Sunshine Protection Act of 2021” to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. Sixteen states have passed initiatives to keep DST year-round, but a federal statue is require for the state to enact the change. Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday and ends November 7. (CBS News)

poll/ 30% of Americans say they won’t get a coronavirus vaccine, while 45% say they will, and 22% saying they have already been vaccinated. 49% of Republican men, 47% of Trump supporters, 30% of white men without college degrees, and 38% of white evangelical Christians all say they will not get vaccinated. (NPR)

Day 50: "Help is on the way."

1/ The House passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, which will send $1,400 stimulus checks to millions of Americans, extend enhanced unemployment benefits, help schools and colleges reopen, and fund vaccine distribution. One Democrat — Rep. Jared Golden — joined all Republicans in voting against the measure. The House passed a similar version of the bill last month, but had to approve changes made by the Senate after the parliamentarian ruled that the federal minimum wage increase violated the Senate’s rules. “This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going – a fighting chance,” Biden said in a statement. Nancy Pelosi called the bill a “force for fairness and justice in America,” comparing it to the Affordable Care Act in its significance, and saying “I join President Biden in his promise: help is on the way.” Despite 70% of Americans favoring the package, Republicans argued that the plan was a bloated “laundry list of left-wing priorities that predate the pandemic.” Biden is expected to sign the relief bill Friday, and mark the one-year anniversary of the pandemic in his first prime-time address to the nation Thursday. (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Politics / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / CBS News / USA Today)

  • What’s in the Covid-19 relief package: Stimulus checks, unemployment assistance, aid to states and municipalities, nutrition assistance, housing aid, tax credits for families and workers, optional paid sick and family leave, education and child care funding, health insurance subsidies and Medicaid matching funds, more money for small businesses, and vaccine and testing funds. (CNN)

2/ Biden ordered an additional 100 million doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. The planned purchase would bring the country’s total vaccine order to 800 million doses – split among three manufacturers – and give the U.S. more than enough supply to vaccinate every adult in the country. Johnson & Johnson, however, is unlikely to deliver the additional 100 million shots in time to speed up vaccinations this spring. (NBC News / Politico)

3/ Thousands of unaccompanied migrant children are being held in U.S. Border Patrol custody for more than four days on average in facilities unfit for minors. Under U.S. law, unaccompanied children have to be turned over within 72 hours to the Department of Health and Human Services. Instead, they’re staying in Customs and Border Protection facilities for 107 hours on average because, in part, the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border is outpacing the availability of proper shelter space for kids. Over the last 21 days, CBP encountered an average of 435 unaccompanied children daily – up from an average of around 340 children. (CNN)

4/ The Senate confirmed Merrick Garland to be the next U.S. attorney general. The 70-30 vote comes five years after Obama nominated Garland to serve on the Supreme Court. The Senate, then under Republican control, refused to consider a hearing or vote. Garland told senators that the attorney general is “not the president’s lawyer,” while noting that he will follow Biden’s lead on policy matters “as long as it is consistent with the law.” He is expected to be sworn in at the Justice Department on Thursday. (Associated Press / Politico / NPR / ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ The Senate confirmed Rep. Marcia Fudge as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, making her the first Black woman to lead the agency in more than four decades. Her appointment leaves a vacancy in the House, where Democrats hold a narrow majority. (CNN / Washington Post)

6/ Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin extended the deployment of National Guard members at the U.S. Capitol through May. The number of Guard members will be reduced from about 5,200 to 2,300. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, called the enhanced security measures at the Capitol an overreaction, “We’ve overdone it. I’m extremely uncomfortable with the fact that my constituents can’t come to the Capitol. There’s all this razor wire around the complex. It reminds me of my last visit to Kabul.” (Washington Post / ABC News / Politico)

7/ An expert on Georgia’s racketeering law was hired to help prosecutors investigating potential efforts by Trump and others to influence the 2020 election. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis engaged John Floyd to serve as a special assistant district attorney to work with her office on any cases involving allegations of racketeering. On Feb. 10, Willis’s office said it had opened a criminal investigation into “potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.” Willis’s office also confirmed that the investigation includes the Jan. 2 phone call in which Trump pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” him enough votes to overturn the state’s presidential election results. (ABC News)

Day 49: "110% confident."

1/ House Democrats plan to pass the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Wednesday and send it to Biden so he can sign it before key unemployment aid programs expire on Sunday. Despite united Republican opposition and a narrow Democratic majority, Nancy Pelosi said she is confident they have the votes to pass one of Congress’s largest-ever economic relief bills. House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries said he was “110% confident” the package will pass. Millions of Americans are expected to receive direct payments of up to $1,400 this month. Expanded unemployment benefits would also be extended through Sept. 6 at $300 a week. The “American Rescue Plan” will also increase the tax break to $3,000 for every child age 6 to 17 and $3,600 for every child under the age of 6. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / CNBC / ABC News)

  • Biden’s won’t out his name on the next round of stimulus checks in an effort to speed distribution. Distribution of an earlier round of coronavirus stimulus checks were delayed because Trump decided to add his name to the memo line of the checks. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

2/ The coronavirus relief bill will expand subsidies for health plans under the Affordable Care Act, making health insurance affordable for 1.3 million more Americans who could not afford insurance under the original law. The changes, however, will last only for two years. (New York Times / Associated Press)

3/ Since the pandemic, about 700,000 mothers have dropped out of the U.S. workforce in states where most students are learning from home. The participation rate of mothers in the labor force was about 18 percentage points lower than fathers’ before the pandemic. Last year, the gap widened by 5 points in states offering mostly remote instruction. About 10 million mothers living with their school-age children were unemployed in January, roughly 1.4 million more than in the same period last year. Separately, a national study found that younger children have fallen behind on reading skills during the pandemic. Second graders were 26% behind where they would have been, absent the pandemic, in their ability to read aloud accurately and quickly. Third graders were 33% behind. (Bloomberg / New York Times)

4/ More than 3,400 migrant children are in Customs and Border Protection custody – triple the number two weeks ago. More than 1,360 of the children have been detained in border facilities longer than the maximum 72 hours permitted by law despite being referred for placement in shelters by Homeland Security. Of those, 169 children are younger than 13. Around 2,800 are awaiting placement in shelters suitable for minors, but there are just under 500 beds available to accommodate them. Border agents, meanwhile, encountered about 78,000 migrants at the border in January — more than double the same time a year ago and higher than in any January in a decade. (New York Times / CNN)

5/ The Biden administration is “not ending family detention” despite recent court filings and public comments condemning migrant family detention. Instead, a senior Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said the agency will release some families more quickly and expand the number of family detention beds in order to move families through the process faster, including for deportation. “ICE does maintain and continues to a system for family detention,” the ICE official said. “We are not closing the family detention centers.” There are more than 100 families in a facility near San Antonio and over 350 in a South Texas facility. The number of immigrants taken into custody by ICE officers, meanwhile, fell more than 60% in February compared with the last three months of the Trump administration. (NBC News / Washington Post)

6/ The Biden administration notified the Supreme Court that it was dropping its defense of the Trump-era expansion of the “public charge” rule, which made it more difficult for immigrants to obtain permanent residency if they were likely to need benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps or federal housing aid. In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security expanded the public charge definition to include anyone likely to require a broader range of government benefits for more than 12 months in any three-year period. The Justice Department notified the court that the Biden administration agreed with the local governments challenging the policy. (NBC News / CNBC)

7/ Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a Republican-backed bill into law that makes it harder to vote by cutting the state’s early voting period and closing the polls an hour earlier on Election Day. Republicans in the state House and Senate approved the changes over the opposition of all Democratic legislators, saying election integrity must be protected. They noted, however, that Iowa has no history of election irregularities and that November’s election saw record turnout with no evidence of widespread voter fraud. (Des Moines Register / CNN / NBC News)

8/ The Georgia Senate passed a bill to repeal no-excuse absentee voting and require more voter ID. Under the legislation, voters would need to be 65 years old or older, absent from their precinct, observing a religious holiday, be required to provide care for someone with a physical disability, or required to work “for the protection of the health, life, or safety of the public during the entire time the polls are open,” or be an overseas or military voter to qualify for an absentee ballot. In addition, Georgians would need to provide a driver’s license number, state ID number or other identification. The legislation heads to the Georgia House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / CNN / NPR)

9/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office subpoenaed documents from a company that loaned the Trump Organization $130 million for its Chicago skyscraper and are examining whether the company misled lenders or insurance brokers about the valuation for certain properties. The subpoena to Fortress Investment Management was issued late last year. (CNN)

10/ The Republican National Committee brushed aside Trump’s cease-and-desist demand, saying it has “has every right to refer to public figures” while fundraising. Trump’s attorneys had asked the RNC and other GOP organization to stop using Trump’s name and likeness in fundraising appeals. The RNC, however, will move part of its spring donor retreat to Mar-a-Lago from a nearby hotel. (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 70% of adults say they support Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, while 28% oppose the legislation. (Pew Research Center)

Day 48: "We just need to hang on a bit longer."

1/ The Senate passed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The American Rescue Plan includes $1,400 stimulus checks for hundreds of millions of Americans, $300-per-week jobless benefits until early September, a child allowance of up to $3,600 for one year, $350 billion for state aid, $34 billion to expand Affordable Care Act subsidies, and $14 billion for vaccine distribution. “I promised the American people help was on the way,” Biden said. “Today, I can say we’ve taken one more giant step of delivering on that promise.” The final vote was 50-49 along party lines. The legislation will have to be passed by the House again before Biden can sign it into law, because the Senate made changes to its version. The Senate bill limited the number of people receiving direct payments, capping them at $80,000 in income for individuals and $160,000 for couples. It also reduced the jobless benefit to $300 from $400 in the House bill. The House plans to pass the relief bill as soon as Tuesday, putting Biden on track to sign his first major legislative accomplishment into law by the end of the week. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, meanwhile, said that the Treasury Department was still “working on” the exact timeline of the stimulus check rollout, but that the White House expected “a large number of Americans to receive relief by the end of the month.” (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / CNBC / Washington Post)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~117,061,000; deaths: ~2,598,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,034,000; deaths: ~526,000; fully vaccinated: ~9.4%; partially vaccinated: ~18.1%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • More than one in five adults have now received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose, and just over one in ten have received two doses. The U.S. administered 5.3 million vaccines over the weekend, and is now administering more than 2 million shots a day on average. New coronavirus cases in the U.S., meanwhile, posted the slowest weekly increase since the pandemic began almost a year ago. (CNBC / Bloomberg)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said the number of vaccine doses available will sharply rise in the coming weeks following federal approval of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot. (CBS News)

2/ New CDC guidance says that people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can safely visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing. The recommendations also say that vaccinated people can visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe Covid-19 disease. The CDC, however, recommends that vaccinated people continue to adhere to public health restrictions, such as mask wearing and social distancing while in public. Dr. Anthony Fauci also warned that it is too early to end Covid-19 restrictions, saying “we’re going in the right direction but we just need to hang on a bit longer.” The guidelines continue to discourage visits involving long-distance travel. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / ABC News / CNN / NBC News / The Guardian)

3/ Russian intelligence agencies are spreading disinformation to undermine confidence in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The State Department’s Global Engagement Center identified four Russian websites spreading misinformation about the virus, as well as “international organizations, military conflicts, protests; and any divisive issue that they can exploit.” The campaign has played up the risk of side effects, questioned the efficacy of the vaccines, and said the U.S. rushed the Pfizer vaccine through the approval process, among other false or misleading claims. (Wall Street Journal / CNN)

4/ The Biden administration notified facilities handling migrant children that they can expand to full, pre-Covid-19 capacity, acknowledging “extraordinary circumstances” due to a rising number of minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Shelters had been operating at 50% capacity to slow the spread of the coronavirus. A separate CDC document, however, says “facilities should plan for and expect to have Covid-19 cases,” citing the nature of the pandemic and that “there is no 0% risk scenario.” (CNN / Axios)

5/ The Biden administration granted temporary protected status to up to 320,000 Venezuelan migrants in the United States. The designation offers legal protections for 18 months to Venezuelans unable to safely return home because of natural disaster, violence, or civil unrest. Eligibility extends only to those in the country as of March 8 who apply within the next 180 days and meet vetting requirements. (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 68% of Americans approve of Biden’s approach to the pandemic. 56% of Americans think loosening mask mandates and restrictions on public gatherings is happening too quickly. (ABC News)

✏️ Notables.

  1. Biden signed executive orders that would establish a Gender Policy Council within the White House and direct the Department of Education to review Trump administration policy changes to Title IX, which overhauled how schools and universities handle complaints of sexual assault and misconduct. (NPR / Bloomberg / NBC News / Washington Post)

  2. Biden nominated two female generals to elite, four-star commands – months after their Pentagon bosses had agreed on their promotions but held them back out of fears that Trump would reject the officers because they were women. (New York Times)

  3. Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to take a series of steps to promote voting access in what the White House calls “an initial step” in its efforts to “protect the right to vote and ensure all eligible citizens can freely participate in the electoral process.” Biden signed the order on the 56th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when civil rights activists marching for the right to vote were brutally beaten by police while crossing Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. (Associated Press / CBS News / CNN)

  4. Georgia’s Republican-controlled state Legislature is moving quickly to push through dozens of “election integrity” bills, which would, among other things, limit mail-in voting primarily to Georgians who are elderly, disabled or out of town on Election Day. One new proposal has targeted Sunday voting, which could reduce the impact of Black voters in the state. (New York Times / NBC News)

  5. The Supreme Court rejected Trump’s final challenge to overturn the presidential election, dismissing his appeal of lower court rulings that upheld Wisconsin’s handling of mail-in ballots. (NBC News / USA Today)

  6. The FBI said a member of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys was in communication with the Trump White House in the days before the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. The FBI would not reveal the names of either party. Separately, a leader of the far-right group said he had been in touch with Roger Stone while at a protest in front of Marco Rubio’s home. During the protest, Enrique Tarrio put Stone on speaker phone to address the gathering. (New York Times)

  7. Sen. Roy Blunt will not run for reelection in 2022. Blunt joins four other Republican senators – Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, Richard Shelby, and Richard Burr – to not seek reelection. (Politico / CNN)

  8. Trump’s lawyers sent cease-and-desist letters to three of the largest GOP fundraising groups for using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise. Trump was reportedly upset that his name was being used without permission by groups that had helped Republicans who voted to impeach him. (CNBC / Politico)

Day 45: Brat attacks.

1/ Senate Democrats agreed to lower the federal unemployment benefits to $300 a week – down from the $400 approved by the House – as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Under the amendment, benefits would be extended through September instead of August, and the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits would be non-taxable income. The White House praised the agreement, with press secretary Jen Psaki tweeting that it would “provide more relief to the unemployed than the current legislation.” Passage of the relief bill, however, stalled for hours after Joe Manchin said he was unsatisfied with the concession. Manchin was also seen talking with Rob Portman, who has pushed an alternate unemployment amendment that would extend unemployment benefits at their current $300-per-week level into July, but without the new tax relief. The developments came as part of the Senate’s hours-long marathon of amendment votes on the relief package, known as a vote-a-rama, which followed Ron Johnson’s earlier demand that the clerks read the entire 628-page plan word by word. Meanwhile, seven Democrats joined with Republicans in voting down an effort by Bernie Sanders to restore raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour to the bill. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona voted down the minimum wage increase with a dramatic thumbs-down. (Wall Street Journal / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / CNN / NBC News / Bloomberg)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~115,922,000; deaths: ~2,577,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,882,000; deaths: ~523,000; fully vaccinated: ~8.4%; partially vaccinated: ~16.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Senate Democrats are reportedly warming to the idea of eliminating the filibuster as fears grow that Republicans will block Biden’s agenda, including his plans for climate change, immigration, gun control, voting rights, and LGBT protections. Pressure started building last week after the proposed minimum wage increase had to be removed from the coronavirus relief package, forcing the White House to cut deals. However, two Senate Democrats — Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema — have said they will oppose any effort to do away with the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to end debate on major bills. (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ There are about 9.5 million fewer jobs today than a year ago despite the U.S. economy adding 379,000 jobs in February. About 4 million people have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. The unemployment rate in February was 6.2%, down from 6.3% in January. (NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / ABC News / CNBC)

4/ New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s senior aides rewrote a June nursing home report by state health officials to hide the higher Covid-19 death toll. The public report said 6,432 nursing home residents had died, when nearly 10,000 residents had actually died. Cuomo released the complete data after the state attorney general said thousands of deaths of nursing home residents had been undercounted. Cuomo claimed that he had withheld the true data out of fear that it could be used against the state by the Trump administration. State officials now say more than 15,000 residents of nursing homes and long-term-care facilities were confirmed or presumed to have died from Covid-19 since March of last year – about 50% higher than earlier official death tolls. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN)

5/ Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan rejected an allotment of 6,200 Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines because he wants Detroiters to get “the best vaccines,” which he said are the Moderna and Pfizer shots. The White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response called Duggan’s comments a “misunderstanding.” Nationwide demand for a coronavirus vaccine, meanwhile, continues to outpace available supply. (Detroit Free Press / CNN)

6/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis received a $250,000 donation from a resident of a private, gated community about a month after the Key Largo club received enough coronavirus vaccine doses for 1,200 residents over the age of 65. Ocean Reef Club resident and former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner made the donation to the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC on February 25 after the club was chosen as a “pop-up” vaccination center. All 17 people from Key Largo who donated to DeSantis’ political committee live in Ocean Reef. Since DeSantis started using pop-up vaccinations sites, his political committee raised $2.7 million in February – more than any other month since he first ran for governor in 2018. DeSantis, meanwhile, said the state “wasn’t involved in it in any shape or form.” (Miami Herald / ABC News / CNN / Washington Post)

7/ Former House impeachment manager Eric Swalwell sued Trump, Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and Rep. Mo Brooks, alleging that they and others were “responsible for the injury and destruction” of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In the 65-page suit, Swalwell alleges that they “directly incited the violence” by putting out “a clear call to action” and then “watched approvingly as the building was overrun.” It’s the second major lawsuit seeking to hold Trump and his allies accountable for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol. Rep. Bennie Thompson previously sued Trump for inciting the riot, accusing him of violating the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act by trying to prevent Congress from carrying out its official duties. (ABC News / CNN / Axios)

8/ The FBI arrested a Trump-appointed State Department aide on charges related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon, unlawful entry, violent and disorderly conduct, and obstructing Congress and law enforcement. Federico Guillermo Klein, now a former State Department aide, is the first arrest of a Trump administration official in connection with the insurrection. Klein was seen on camera wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and shoving a riot shield into an officer and inciting the crowd as it tried to push past the police line, shouting, “We need fresh people, we need fresh people.” (Politico / Washington Post / Associated Press / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

9/ The Trump appointee at the agency that oversees Voice of America spent more than $1 million investigating his own staff. Michael Pack was reportedly “irate” last summer when he couldn’t fire or suspend U.S. Agency for Global Media executives, who had warned him that some of his plans might be illegal. Instead of using the inspectors general to determine what – if any – wrongdoing the executives might have committed, Pack personally signed a no-bid contract to hire a law firm to review social media posts, “news articles relating to Michael Pack,” and an inspectors general “audit on Hillary Clinton’s email breach.” (NPR)

poll/ 69% of Americans intend to get a Covid-19 vaccine or already have – up from 60% who said they planned to get vaccinated in November. (Pew Research Center)

poll/ 60% of Americans believe that the Covid-19 situation is improving, while 26% say it’s staying the same, and 14% believe it is getting worse. (Gallup)

poll/ 60% of Americans approve of Biden’s job performance so far. 70% approve his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. (Associated Press)

Day 44: "No matter how long it takes."

1/ The Senate voted to open debate on Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill. The vote was 51 to 50, with Harris breaking the 50-to-50 tie. As soon as the Senate voted to proceed to the bill, Sen. Ron Johnson forced the clerk to read all 628 pages of the bill, which will take hours. Republicans can use up to 20 hours of debate time, and then force an unlimited number of amendment votes. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer dismissed Johnson’s effort to delay, saying the tactic “will accomplish little more than a few sore throats for the Senate clerks […] No matter how long it takes, the Senate is going to stay in session to finish the bill this week.” Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, has promised that the House will pass the Senate’s version of the bill, despite the limited eligibility for $1,400 relief checks and excluded $15 minimum wage increase. (Politico / NPR / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~115,468,000; deaths: ~2,566,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,809,000; deaths: ~520,000; fully vaccinated: ~8.4%; partially vaccinated: ~16.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • The United States is averaging 2 million vaccine doses administered per day. A month ago, the average was about 1.3 million. (New York Times)

2/ The Trump administration spent about $10 billion in hospitals funds on Operation Warp Speed contracts. Congress had allocated the money to help health care providers pay for pandemic-related expenses including staffing, personal protective equipment, and vaccine distribution. While Congress allowed the Department of Health and Human Services to move money between accounts, lawmakers required the agency notify them at least 10 days in advance of a transfer. Instead, HHS spent the money directly out of Provider Relief Fund on Operation Warp Speed contracts, without making a transfer, which didn’t trigger the congressional notification requirements. (STAT News)

3/ The House passed an expansion of federal voting rights over unified Republican opposition. The bill, titled the “For the People Act,” creates uniform national voting standards, overhauls campaign finance laws, and outlaws partisan redistricting – similar to a bill passed two years ago that stalled in the Senate, which was controlled by Republicans at the time. The measure passed 220-210, with one Democrat joining all Republican House members in voting against it. The bill is unlikely to draw the 60 votes needed to advance in the 50-50 Senate unless Democrats abandon the filibuster. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / NPR)

4/ The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The policing reform bill would ban chokeholds, end racial and religious profiling, establish a national database to track police misconduct, and prohibit certain no-knock warrants. The legislation would also alter “qualified immunity” – a legal doctrine that shields officers from lawsuits – making it easier to pursue claims of police misconduct. The bill passed 220 to 212, with two Democrats voting against it, and one Republican accidentally voting for it. After the vote, Rep. Lance Gooden tweeted that he had pressed the wrong button and meant to vote “no.” The House passed a similar bill last year, which failed in the Republican-controlled Senate. (NPR / Washington Post)

5/ The Biden administration will convert immigrant family detention centers in Texas into quick-release intake facilities, which would rapidly screen migrant parents and children and release them into the U.S. within 72 hours. The Department of Health and Human Services, meanwhile, has already re-opened a Trump-era overflow shelter in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to accommodate an influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The shelter system is currently at 94% occupancy and expected to reach its maximum this month. (Washington Post / Axios / Bloomberg)

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott stalled federal efforts to test migrants released from custody for Covid-19 and then blamed the Biden administration exposing Texans to the coronavirus. Earlier this week, Abbott relaxed the state’s Covid-19 restrictions despite health officials’ warnings. (CNN)

6/ Capitol Police requested that the National Guard continue to provide security at the U.S. Capitol for another two months. There are more than 5,000 Guard members currently in Washington, D.C. They’re all scheduled to go home on March 12. The House, meanwhile, canceled its session today after Capitol Police warned of a “possible plot” by a militia group to storm the building. (Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / NPR / CNN)

7/ Federal investigators are examining communication records between members of Congress and the pro-Trump mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol. Justice Department officials have assigned more than two dozen prosecutors to look into whether lawmakers wittingly or unwittingly helped the insurrectionists. (CNN)

8/ The Trump administration referred at least 334 leaks of classified information for criminal investigation – a record. Under Trump, the FBI also established a special unit in its Counterintelligence Division for investigating leaks. Very few referrals, however, ended up identifying the leaker or going to trial. (The Intercept)

9/ Trump’s Justice Department declined to open a criminal investigation into the actions by Elaine Chao when she was transportation secretary. According to an Office of Inspector General report, Chao, the wife of Mitch McConnell, repeatedly used her position and agency staff to help family members who run a shipping business with ties to China. Chao also required DOT staff to help with personal errands, and do chores for her father, which included editing his Wikipedia page and promoting his Chinese-language biography. The inspector general referred the findings to the Justice Department in December 2020, which declined to open an investigation, citing “there is not predication” to do so. (New York Times / NPR)

10/ South Carolina senators added a firing squad to the list of execution methods in a bid to restart the state’s executions after nearly 10 years. Currently, inmates can choose between the electric chair and lethal injection. South Carolina, however, can’t put anyone to death currently because its supply of lethal injection drugs has expired and can no longer be used or purchased. Utah, Oklahoma, and Mississippi also allow a firing squad. (Associated Press)

Day 43: "Neanderthal thinking."

1/ Biden called Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to relax coronavirus restrictions “Neanderthal thinking” and that it was a “big mistake” for people to stop wearing masks. Other states, including Mississippi, have also begun to relax restrictions and end requirements to wear masks citing vaccination rates and lower numbers of Covid-19 cases. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, criticized the decision by governors of Texas and Mississippi to lift mask requirements and other restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, saying “We have been very clear now is not the time to release all restrictions. The next month or two is really pivotal in terms of how this pandemic goes.” White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki added: “This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic.” (USA Today / ABC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

2/ Biden and Senate Democrats agreed to limit the number of people who are eligible for $1,400 stimulus checks. Under the new structure, payments would phase out at a faster rate than the House’s Covid-19 relief bill, which zeroed out at individuals earning $100,000 and $200,000 for couples. The Senate bill will cut off payments at $80,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples. About 12 million fewer adults and 5 million fewer kids would get the stimulus payments under the new compromise. In January, Biden promised to boost stimulus payments for Americans to $2,000, telling Georgia voters that they would get $2,000 payments if Democrats won both Senate runoff elections. (NBC News / Washington Post / CNBC / Bloomberg)

3/ The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI warned of a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol and “remove Democratic lawmakers on or about” March 4. The bulletin, titled “National Capital Region Remains Attractive Target for Domestic Violent Extremists,” warned that “Domestic Violent Extremists” or “Militia Violent Extremists” were emboldened by the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and may “exploit public gatherings either formally organized or spontaneous to engage in violence.” The threat appears to be connected to a QAnon conspiracy theory that Trump will return to power on March 4, because that was the original presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20. (NBC News / Associated Press / CBS News / Bloomberg)

4/ Maj. Gen. William Walker testified that he had National Guard troops at the ready for more than three hours on Jan. 6, while he waited for Trump’s Defense Department to authorize their deployment. Walker also told senators that on Jan. 5, he received a letter with the “unusual” restriction that he was first required to seek approval from the Secretary of the Army and Defense before deploying any Quick Reaction Force service members. Walker added that military leaders — including Michael Flynn’s brother — advised that deploying troops would not be “good optics.” (NPR / CNN / CNBC)

poll/ 62% of Americans support the $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus package, while 34% oppose it. (Monmouth University)

✏️ Notables.

  1. The House Oversight Committee reissued a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm for financial records related to the panel’s investigations into presidential conflicts of interest. The committee first issued the subpoena to Mazars USA in April 2019, but that expired with the new Congress. Separately, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance enforced a subpoena for Trump’s tax documents from Mazars last week. (NBC News)

  2. The New York City Bar Association called for a “serious investigation” into Rudy Giuliani for promoting Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Multiple complaints have been sent to the Attorney Grievance Committee alleging Giuliani violated rules of conduct for attorneys. The committee’s staff attorney can recommend giving Giuliani a warning, suspending their license temporarily, or disbarring them altogether. (CNN)

  3. The White House pulled Neera Tanden’s nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget following bipartisan opposition stemming from her past social media posts that criticized lawmakers in both parties. The White House said it would find her another role in the administration that didn’t require confirmation. (CNN / New York Times / CBS News)

  4. The Senate confirmed Gina Raimondo as the next secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department. The Senate also confirmed Cecilia Rouse to chair the Council of Economic Advisers. Rouse will be the first Black person to serve as the President’s top economist. (NPR / CNN)

  5. At least 10 rockets were fired on an air base in Iraq where U.S. forces are stationed. A U.S. contractor died of a heart attack during the rocket barrage. The attack came less than a week after the U.S. military struck Iran-aligned militia targets in Syria in response to rocket attacks on American forces in the region in recent weeks. The Defense Department and the White House did not identify the group responsible for the attack. (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN)

  6. Bipartisan senators introduced legislation that would repeal repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force in the Middle East. Sens. Tim Kaine and Todd Young unveiled the measure hours after an Iraqi military base housing U.S. troops and civilian contractors was hit by rocket attacks. Biden also angered congressional Democrats when he launched airstrikes in Syria last week without first seeking congressional approval. (Politico)

  7. Trump’s White House physician made “sexual and denigrating” comments about a female subordinate, violated policy for drinking alcohol during presidential trips, and took Ambien while working that prompted concerns about his ability to provide proper care, according to the Department of Defense inspector general. Rep. Ronny Jackson denied the allegations, saying Democrats were “using this report to repeat and rehash untrue attacks on my integrity.” The findings, however, stem from a years-long IG investigation into Jackson that included interviews with dozens of colleagues. Jackson was elected to represent a Texas congressional district in November. (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

Day 42: "It's not going away anytime soon."

1/ Biden said the U.S. expects to have a large enough supply of coronavirus vaccines to vaccinate every adult in the nation by the end of May – two months earlier than anticipated. The White House said it was increasing supply of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to states next week to 15.2 million doses per week – up from 14.5 million. States will also receive 2.8 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine this week, with the supply climbing to 4-6 million by the end of March and 5-6 million by the end of April. White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said states should prepare to administer 17-18 million total weekly doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by early April. (Associated Press / CNBC)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~114,698,000; deaths: ~2,545,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,705,000; deaths: ~516,000; fully vaccinated: ~7.9%; partially vaccinated: ~15.6%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Merck will help manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine to boost the supply of the newly authorized vaccine. Under the unusual arrangement, Merck will dedicate two facilities in the U.S. to Johnson & Johnson’s shots. The White House said it was utilizing the Defense Production Act to help Merck secure equipment needed to upgrade its facilities for vaccine production, including the purchase of machinery, bags, tubing, and filtration systems. Biden has promised enough vaccine doses for 300 million Americans by the end of July. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • Trump’s homelessness czar resigned. During his last month in his post, Robert Marbut Jr. traveled the country and showed up uninvited at shelters for tours despite restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among one of the highest-risk populations. Marbut also received one of about 70 available coronavirus vaccines at one facility. (Bloomberg)

2/ The World Health Organization warned that the global number of new coronavirus cases rose for the first time in nearly two months. Over the past week, cases jumped in every region except for Africa and the Western Pacific. The WHO blamed the surge on new variants and premature efforts to lift public health restrictions. (Washington Post)

3/ Texas’s governor ended his statewide mask mandate, saying “it is now time to open Texas 100 percent.” All businesses in the state will be able to reopen next week with no capacity limits. Meanwhile, more than 6,000 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Texas today, with more than 1,700 of those patients in intensive care units. Nevertheless, Greg Abbott said the “state mandates are no longer needed.” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves also lifted his state’s mask mandate, saying that hospitalizations in the state have “plummeted” and that cases have declined dramatically. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, meanwhile, said she was “really worried” about rolling back restrictions in some states, cautioning that with “stalling” cases and new variants spreading, “we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post)

4/ FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Jan. 6 insurrection was “an inspiration to a number of terrorist extremists” and that he considers the attack “domestic terrorism.” Wray defended the FBI’s handling of intelligence in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, saying the FBI tracked “a large amount of information” about the potential for violence, but he didn’t explain what the FBI did with the information. Wray also told lawmakers that there’s no evidence indicating that the rioters were “fake Trump protesters” – a baseless claim that Republican Sen. Ron Johnson has advanced in recent weeks in an effort to downplay the violence committed by the pro-Trump mob. Wray said that there are 2,000 domestic terrorism investigations – up from almost 1,000 when he first started in 2017. “The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now,” Wray added, “and it’s not going away anytime soon.” (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / NPR / Bloomberg / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Supreme Court is hearing arguments over two Arizona voting restrictions – one requiring election officials to discard ballots cast at the wrong precinct and the other making it a crime to collect ballots for delivery to polling places. Democrats sued, arguing that Republicans are increasingly trying to suppress the vote and that the rules discriminate against minorities and that they violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The justices reportedly seemed poised to uphold both Arizona laws. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

6/ The U.S. needs 20,000 beds to shelter unaccompanied migrant children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. While Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has claimed yesterday that the current influx is not a crisis, Biden was briefed today that the number of migrant children is on pace to exceed the all-time record by 45%. The Department of Health and Human Services, meanwhile, plans to loosen its coronavirus protocols to make room for an additional 2,000 kids and teens. Biden has asked Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, for help in keeping Central American migrants from immediately surging north toward the United States through Mexico. (Axios / New York Times)

7/ The Senate confirmed Miguel Cardona as education secretary. Cardona will be tasked with helping to reopen schools, addressing inequity in the nation’s education system, and managing the $1.5 trillion federal student loan program. (Washington Post)

8/ The Biden administration sanctioned seven senior Russian government figures over the poisoning and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The sanctions block access to financial or other assets in the United States. The European Union also issued its own sanctions against four top Russian officials. (ABC News / NBC News / Washington Post)

9/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office has increased its focus on the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer as part of its financial fraud investigation. District Attorney Cyrus Vance has been asking witnesses about Allen Weisselberg and his sons, Barry and Jack Weisselberg, related to whether Trump and the Trump Organization manipulated property values to obtain loans and tax benefits. In 2018, Weisselberg was granted immunity by federal prosecutors in New York as part of their criminal investigation into hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal during the 2016 presidential campaign. (New York Times)

10/ Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany will join Fox News as an on-air commentator. McEnany – who told reporters “I will never lie to you” when she took on the role of White House press secretary – routinely defended and promoted Trump’s misleading statements during press conference. (NBC News)

Day 41: "The most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded this administration."

1/ The House passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package in a 219 to 212 vote. The measure would provide $1,400 payments to millions of Americans, speed up vaccine distribution and testing, and extend unemployment aid through the summer. More than a dozen House Republicans skipped the vote, saying they can’t attend “due to the ongoing public health emergency.” Those members, however, were scheduled to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando. The Senate will take up the measure this week, which currently includes hiking the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The bill, however, is unlikely to receive support from Senate Republicans. Federal jobless aid expires on March 14. (Politico / CNN / USA Today)

2/ Senate Democrats and the White House abandoned efforts to include a $15 minimum wage increase in order to move Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package forward before current supplemental unemployment benefits expire on March 14. Senior Democratic lawmakers briefly considered new tax penalties on big companies that don’t pay at least $15 an hour, but dropped the plan after it became clear that getting all 50 Senate Democrats to agree on the specifics would risk missing the deadline for extending unemployment benefits. The tax idea was floated after the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the increase in the federal minimum wage would violate the chamber’s rules. A group of 23 progressive lawmakers urged Biden to keep his campaign promise to raise the minimum wage and overrule the Senate parliamentarian. The White House, however, declined to overrule the parliamentarian, saying “that’s not an action we intend to take.” Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, meanwhile, have both said they do not support increasing the minimum wage to $15 as part of the coronavirus relief package. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration would work with “members of Congress, with their staffs, about the best vehicle moving forward. But we don’t have a clear answer on what that looks like at this point.” (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / ABC News / Business Insider / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The FDA authorized Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. Johnson & Johnson’s initial supply will be limited to 3.9 million doses – expected to ship this week – with about 800,000 going directly to pharmacies. An estimated 20 million doses are expected by the end of March and 100 million doses by the end of June. (ABC News / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~114,351,000; deaths: ~2,537,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,649,000; deaths: ~515,000; fully vaccinated: ~7.7%; partially vaccinated: ~15.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Biden will not consider sharing U.S. coronavirus vaccine supply with Mexico if Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador asked. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “has made clear that he is focused on ensuring that vaccines are accessible to every American. That is our focus.” (Politico)

4/ The Biden administration’s task force for reuniting migrant families separated by the Trump administration will allow those families to reunite and settle in either in the U.S. or their county of origin. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called the separation of more than 5,500 migrant families under the Trump administration “the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded this administration.” Approximately 105 families have been reunited so far. (Politico / NBC News)

5/ The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Merrick Garland’s nomination for attorney general. The vote was 15 to 7 with all Democratic senators and four Republicans in favor. (CNN / NBC News)

6/ The Biden administration won’t release the visitors logs of attendees to virtual meetings, which is the primary meeting form during the coronavirus pandemic. “Virtual meetings will not be subject to release — in the same way that previous administrations didn’t release phone logs — but we’re planning on regularly releasing the attendee lists for in-person meetings at the White House,” an official said. Before the inauguration, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House would release its visitor logs and that Biden wants to bring “truth and transparency back” to the White House. In 2017, three organizations sued Trump for not releasing White House visitor logs and the Secret Service agreed to stop erasing the visitors logs following Freedom of Information Act requests at the time. (Politico)

7/ Republicans, conservative activists, and media personalities have repeatedly pushed false and fictional narratives about what happened on Jan. 6, in order to rewrite the story that a mob – incited by Trump – breached the United States Capitol to keep Trump in power through violence. For nearly two months, a campaign by pro-Trump groups has tried to minimize the insurrection by advancing baseless claims that antifa provocateurs were to blame for the violence on Jan. 6; that a few troublemakers spoiled the protest; and that the riot wasn’t a big deal. And, at a Senate hearing last week, Sen. Ron Johnson repeated the falsehood that “fake Trump protesters” fomented the violence. Democrats, meanwhile, have called for more investigations of the attacks – including Trump’s role – and negotiations continue over creating an outside commission. (Washington Post / New York Times)

8/ Trump attacked Biden’s tenure as president in his first public appearance since leaving office, calling it “the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history.” Trump started his 90-minute address – which began more than an hour late – by asking the Conservative Political Action Conference crowd: “Do you miss me?” before reviving his false claims of election fraud and attacking the Supreme Court for not siding with him, saying, the justices “should be ashamed of themselves for what they’ve done to our country [they] didn’t have the guts or the courage to do anything about it.” Trump said that he is “not starting a new party,” but suggested he may run again in 2024, saying: “Who knows? I may even decide to beat them for a third time.” Trump also named every Republican who supported his second impeachment and called for them to be ousted. 95% of conference attendees said the GOP should continue to embrace Trump’s policy ideas, and 68% of attendees said Trump should run again in 2024. (NPR / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News / CNN / Politico)

Day 38: "Too complicated."

1/ The Senate parliamentarian ruled that the $15-an-hour minimum wage increase cannot be included in the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package. Elizabeth MacDonough said the plan to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 was not compliant with the rules governing the budget reconciliation process that Congress is using to pass the bill with a simple majority. Democrats used budget reconciliation to keep Republicans from filibustering the minimum wage increase in the Senate. Rep. Ilhan Omar, meanwhile, called for MacDonough to be fired and replaced, which Republicans did in 2001 when the parliamentarian ruled against their plans. The White House, however, said it will not support overruling or firing MacDonough. Despite the ruling, the House still plans to vote Friday to pass the stimulus relief package with the $15 minimum wage included and send it to the Senate. Biden has promised to support a standalone bill to raise the minimum wage to $15, but it’s unlikely to get Republican support. About 11.4 million workers will lose unemployment benefits starting March 14. (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Axios / The Guardian)

2/ Biden authorized retaliatory airstrikes in Syria against two Iranian-backed militia groups. The Pentagon said the buildings belonged to Iran-backed militia groups responsible for the recent attacks against American and allied personnel in Iraq. The strikes – seven 500-pound bombs – were just over the border in Syria at an unofficial crossing at the Syria-Iraq border used to smuggle across weapons and fighters. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Reuters)

3/ Biden won’t hold Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable for approving the operation that led to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” a declassified intelligence report’s executive summary states. While the U.S. is preparing to levy sanctions against a group of Saudis implicated in the killing – but not Prince Mohammed himself – Biden’s national security team advised against bringing criminal charges or imposing travel sanctions that would bar MBS from entering the U.S., saying it would be “too complicated” and could jeopardized Saudi cooperation on counterterrorism and in confronting Iran. Biden’s aides said the administration would instead not invite MBS to the U.S. anytime soon. On the campaign trail, Biden promised to punish Saudi leadership for its role in Khashoggi’s murder in a way that Trump wouldn’t. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN / New York Times / NBC News)

4/ The Biden administration is planning to open another tent facility in Texas in the coming weeks to house migrant families and children. The temporary U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Del Rio, Tex., is similar to the “soft-sided” structure that opened in Donna, Tex., three weeks ago to hold migrant family groups. The Del Rio tent facility also differs from the Carrizo Springs, Tex., facility that opened this week, which Health and Human Services uses to hold migrant teens who crossed the border without a parent. (Washington Post)

5/ The FDA advisory committee voted unanimously to recommend Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. If the agency agrees, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be the third one cleared for use in the U.S., it will be the first vaccine to require just one dose instead of two. (NPR / USA Today / New York Times / CNBC / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~113,268,000; deaths: ~2,514,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,465,000; deaths: ~510,000; fully vaccinated: ~6.8%; partially vaccinated: ~14.2%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

6/ Mitch McConnell said he would “absolutely” support Trump as the 2024 Republican presidential nominee. Earlier this month, McConnell called Trump’s role in the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol a “disgraceful dereliction of duty,” saying “Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” (NBC News)

Day 37: "A critical step."

1/ The House passed the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by extending civil rights protections to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Last week Biden called the bill “a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all.” The same legislation was previously passed by the House in 2019, but blocked in the Republican-led Senate. While Democrats now control the White House, House, and Senate, the measure still faces an uphill fight in the Senate, where it would need 60 votes to break a legislative filibuster. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted an anti-transgender sign outside of her office, which is directly across the hall from another lawmaker who has a transgender child. Rep. Marie Newman had earlier hung a transgender pride flag next to her door in protest over Greene’s opposition to the Equality Act. (NBC News / CNN)

2/ Biden ended Trump’s ban on legal immigration that had dramatically cut legal immigration to the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic. Last spring, Trump ordered a “pause” on the issuance of green cards and halted certain temporary work visas, saying he needed to protect U.S. jobs amid high unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden said the Trump policy did “not advance the interests of the United States” and had prevented qualified and eligible non-U.S. residents from entering the country. Biden also eliminated Trump’s effort to cut funding for cities he deemed were “permitting anarchy, violence and destruction” following anti-police brutality protests last summer. (NPR / New York Times / NBC News / CBS News / The Guardian /Bloomberg)

  • Biden revoked Trump’s executive order that made classical architecture the preferred style for federal buildings in Washington. Trump had called modern federal buildings constructed over the last five decades “undistinguished,” “uninspiring” and “just plain ugly.” Instead, Trump required all new buildings be “beautiful.” (NPR)

3/ The Biden administration reopened a tent facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to house up to 700 immigrant teenagers after they cross the U.S.-Mexico border unaccompanied by a parent. The facility, closed since July 2019, is reopening because permanent facilities for migrant children have had to cut capacity by 40% because of the coronavirus pandemic. The administration is also planning to reopen a for-profit emergency temporary shelter in Homestead, Florida that once held up to 3,200 children and came under fire in 2019 following reports of sexual abuse, overcrowding, and negligent hiring practices. The administration has maintained that it has to reopen the facilities because of limited capacity at existing facilities during the pandemic and an influx of unaccompanied children. (Washington Post / Associated Press / Vox / NBC News / CNN / New York Times / CBS News)

  • A federal judge indefinitely blocked the Biden’s administration from enforcing a 100-day moratorium on most deportations. Judge Drew Tipton issued the preliminary injunction sought by Texas, which argued the moratorium violated federal law and risked imposing additional costs on the state. (CBS News)

  • Lawyers have located the parents of 105 children separated by the Trump administration. The parents of 506 separated migrant children, however, still haven’t been found and 322 of them were likely to have been deported. (NBC News)

4/ A new coronavirus variant is spreading rapidly in New York City and contains a mutation that may weaken the effectiveness of vaccines. The new variant, called B.1.526, first appeared in November, but by mid-February it accounted for about 27% of NYC viral sequences deposited into a database. Meanwhile, a new variant detected in California, which goes by two names, B.1.427 and B.1.429, now makes up more than half of the infections in 44 counties in the state. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~112,869,000; deaths: ~2,505,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,398,000; deaths: ~508,000; fully vaccinated: ~6.2%; partially vaccinated: ~13.6%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

5/ Another 730,000 people filed for initial unemployment benefits – down from 841,000 the previous week. Continuing claims decreased to a pandemic-era low of 4.42 million, which is significantly higher than the pre-pandemic norm. Although the unemployment rate stands at 6.3%, a broader measure that includes those who have given up on their job searches is closer to 10%. (CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

6/ Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman warned that the same groups involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection want to “blow up the Capitol” and “kill as many members as possible” during Biden’s first official address to Congress. During a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, Pittman told lawmakers that over 10,000 pro-Trump rioters came onto the Capitol grounds and that more than 800 of them ended up breaching the building. “Officers were unsure of when to use lethal force on Jan. 6,” Pittman said. “The department will also implement significant training to refresh our officers as to the use of lethal force.” Biden is expected to deliver an address to a joint session of Congress after passing Covid-19 relief. (NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post)

7/ Trump’s tax returns and other financial documents were turned over to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Cyrus Vance’s office enforced a subpoena on Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s request to prevent the millions of pages of records from being handed over as part of an ongoing criminal grand jury investigation. Trump spent nearly 18 months trying to keep the records secret. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Politico / CBS News / NBC News / CNBC)

8/ The Senate voted 64-35 to confirm Jennifer Granholm as secretary of the Department of Energy. Granholm – the second woman to head the department – is expected to play a major role in Biden’s promises to accelerate and expand the country’s shift renewable energy sources. (Axios)

9/ Postmaster General Louis DeJoy apologized for “unacceptable” mail delays during the holiday season in testimony before the House Oversight Committee, but warned that the postal system is “in a death spiral” and needs legislation to help restore it to financial stability. During testimony, DeJoy told lawmakers he intends to be around “a long time,” saying: “Get used to me.” Shortly after DeJoy testified, however, Biden announced three nominees to the Postal Service’s Board of Governors, which has the power to appoint and replace the postmaster general. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden wants to see leaders who can do a “better job” running USPS. (NPR / ABC News / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / Bloomberg

Day 36: "More must be done."

1/ House Democrats plan to pass the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill by Friday, setting up the Senate to approve the bill with a simple majority, and send it to Biden before March 14, when several unemployment programs expire. A ruling from the Senate parliamentarian is expected soon about whether Biden’s proposed $15-an-hour minimum wage increase would be allowable under Senate “budget reconciliation” rules. Meanwhile, more than 150 American companies urged congressional leaders to pass “immediate and large-scale federal legislation to address the health and economic crises brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic,” saying “more must be done to put the country on a trajectory for a strong, durable recovery.” (CNBC / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~112,420,000; deaths: ~2,493,000
  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,322,000; deaths: ~505,000; vaccinated: ~13.4% of total population
  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ The FDA said Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine meets the requirements for emergency use authorization in a document posted ahead of Friday’s FDA advisers meeting, setting the stage the third effective vaccine developed in under a year to be authorized in the U.S. FDA scientists found that the single dose vaccine was 85% effective at preventing severe illness in clinical trials and 66% effective at preventing Covid-19 cases with any symptoms. (ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The Biden administration will make 25 million masks available – for free – to Americans at community health centers and food banks. The masks will be delivered by Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Department of Defense starting in March through May. (ABC News)

4/ Two Senate committees postponed Neera Tanden’s confirmation hearing – Biden’s pick to head the White House Office of Management and Budget. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Budget Committee were set to vote on Tanden’s nomination Wednesday ahead of a full Senate floor vote, but postponed “because members are asking for more time to consider the nominee.” (Axios / USA Today / Politico)

5/ The Biden administration is expected to release a U.S. intelligence report that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Separately, documents filed as part of a Canadian civil lawsuit say two private jets used by the Saudi assassination squad that killed and dismembered Khashoggi were owned by a company that the crown prince had seized less than a year before. Biden reportedly plans to call Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ahead of Thursday’s release of the report, which would be Biden’s first conversation as president with the Saudi king. (Reuters / CNN / The Guardian / Axios)

6/ The Washington, DC, attorney general’s office deposed Trump Jr. related to a lawsuit alleging the misuse of Trump inaugural funds. The attorney general’s office alleges that the Trump Organization signed a contract for a block of rooms at the the Loews Madison hotel during the 2017 inauguration, but forwarded the invoice to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which then paid the bill. (CNN)

  • The Manhattan district attorney’s office subpoenaed Steve Bannon’s financial records related to crowd-funding border wall effort. The New Jersey attorney general’s office has also launched a civil inquiry into We Build the Wall, in addition to the criminal investigation. (CNN)

poll/ 61% of adults say the possibility that students will fall behind academically without in-person instruction should be given a lot of consideration as K-12 schools decide whether to reopen. In July 2020, 48% said students falling behind academically should be given a lot of consideration about whether to open for in-person instruction in the fall. (Pew Research Center)

poll/ 5.6% of U.S. adults identify as LGBT – up from 4.5% since 2017. (Gallup)

Day 35: "Intelligence failures."

1/ Officials in charge of Capitol security on Jan. 6 blamed “intelligence failures” by the federal government for the “coordinated, military-style” attack on Congress that threatened the peaceful transfer of power. Testifying before a joint bipartisan committee of senators, former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund said he never saw a Jan. 5 FBI report warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and wage “war” on Jan. 6. “A clear lack of accurate and complete intelligence across several federal agencies contributed to this event, and not poor planning by the United States Capitol Police,” Sund said. “But none of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred.” Former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving said that while they were informed that Congress would be a target and some protesters could be armed, “the intelligence was not that there would be a coordinated assault on the Capitol, nor was that contemplated in any of the inter-agency discussions that I attended in the days before the attack.” Acting D.C. police chief Robert Contee added that he and Sund called the National Guard for help after the mob stormed the building, but a top Pentagon official said he would recommend against deploying the National Guard for fear of the “optics” of armed troops in front of the Capitol. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / USA Today / BuzzFeed News / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The House is expected to approve Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal this week, after the House Budget Committee advanced the bill on Monday. The House will likely pass the bill, which includes $1,400 in direct payments to Americans, money for vaccine distribution and funding to state and local governments, in a party-line vote. It’s unclear, however, whether raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 will be included in the final Senate version of the legislation. Republicans, meanwhile, have proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $10, but only if businesses are required to use the E-Verify system designed to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers. (CBS News / USA Today)

3/ The Biden administration is preparing sanctions to punish Russia for poisoning and jailing Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, as well as the SolarWinds hack on government agencies and private companies. The administration is calling the SolarWinds operation “indiscriminate” and “disruptive,” which was not equivalent to the kind of espionage the U.S. conducts. The U.S. is expected to coordinate sanctions with European allies in the coming weeks. (Washington Post / Politico)

4/ Democrats accused Sen. Joe Manchin – a conservative Democrat – and Republicans of having a “double standard” when it comes to confirming the women and people of color that Biden has nominated. Manchin said he was opposed to Neera Tanden becoming the first Asian American woman to lead the Office of Management and Budget because of her past tweets attacking lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Democrats, however, argued that after Trump, there is no justification for having someone’s tweets disqualify them. Manchin has also indicated that he was having doubts about Deb Haaland, who would become the first Native woman to run the Interior, while Republicans have accused Haaland of being “radical,” because of her support for progressive environmental policies and opposition to new oil and gas drilling leases on federal land. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, pointed out that Manchin had voted to confirm Jeff Sessions – Trump’s first attorney general – despite accusations of racism throughout his career. Rep. Grace Meng added that “in the past, Trump nominees that they’ve confirmed and supported had much more serious issues and conflicts than just something that was written on Twitter.” Manchin responded, saying “I’m all about bipartisanship. I really am […] This is not personal at all.” Republicans have also pushed back on Xavier Becerra – Biden’s choice to run the Heath and Human Services Department – citing his views on expanding health care and abortion access to unauthorized immigrants. (Politico / The Guardian)

  • The Senate voted 78-20 to confirm Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield promised to restore the U.S. role as a defender of human rights and will look to repair multilateral relationships. (Axios)

  • The Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary. The vote was 92-7. (CNN)

  • Georgia Republican David Perdue will not run against an incumbent Democrat, Senator Raphael Warnock, in 2022 – one week after filing paperwork for a new campaign and days after visiting with Trump. (New York Times / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / CNBC)

Day 34: "The work continues."

1/ The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 500,000 with more than 28,000,000 confirmed cases. More Americans have died from Covid-19 than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined – and public health officials have said the actual death toll is likely significantly higher. Dr. Anthony Fauci called the death toll a “stunning,” “terrible,” “really horrible,” and “historic” figure, adding that the U.S. had “done worse than most any other country” despite being a “highly developed, rich country.” On February 23, 2020, Trump suggested that the coronavirus is “going to go away,” because “we’ve had no deaths” and “we have it very much under control in this country.” The coronavirus has killed more than 2,462,000 people worldwide. (NBC News / New York Times / ABC News / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~111,643,000; deaths: ~2,472,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,175,000; deaths: ~500,000; vaccinated: ~13.3% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • First doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines have reduced Covid-19 hospital admissions among the elderly in the U.K. by up to 85% and 94%, respectively. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

2/ Biden altered the Paycheck Protection Program to direct more funding toward very small businesses and those owned by minorities or located in underserved communities. Starting March 9, businesses with more than 20 employees will be shut out of the PPP for two weeks. Biden criticized the PPP’s early rollout for privileging larger businesses with existing banking connections while smaller businesses struggled to obtain relief. The administration, however, has not said whether it will seek to extend the program after the current funding expires March 31. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The Supreme Court rejected Trump’s last-ditch effort to keep his private financial records from the Manhattan district attorney. After a four-month delay, the court denied Trump’s motion in a one-sentence order with no recorded dissents, clearing the way for prosecutors in New York City to receive eight years of his tax returns and other financial records as part of an ongoing investigation into possible tax, insurance, and bank fraud. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can now enforce a subpoena to Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, to turn over records Trump has repeatedly refused to surrender. Mazars previously said it would comply with the final ruling of the courts. “The work continues,” Vance said in response to the Supreme Court order. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News / CNN / ABC News / The Guardian)

4/ The confirmation of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget is in doubt after two Republicans and a Democrat said they will vote against her nomination. Sens. Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and Joe Manchin said Tanden’s “past actions” on social media behavior, including criticizing Bernie Sanders and Mitch McConnell, demonstrated the animosity that Biden “pledged to transcend” and that the OMB nominee did not have the “experience nor the temperament” to lead the office. The White House, meanwhile, signaled that it will continue to support Tanden, despite her path to confirmation growing increasingly narrow. (Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

  • Republicans in the House and Senate are demanding that Biden withdraw the nomination of Xavier Becerra to head the Department of Health and Human Services, because of his support for abortion rights and “Medicare for All.” Despite the GOP’s opposition to Becerra, Democrats are confident they have the votes to get Becerra confirmed. (Politico / National Reviews)

5/ The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up Republican challenges to the presidential election results in Pennsylvania. Trump and the Pennsylvania Republican Party had urged the justices to review a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, which had extended the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots until three days after the election. About 10,000 ballots arrived during the three-day window – short of the number needed to overturn Biden’s 80,555-vote victory in the state. The justices offered no public explanation for their decision, but Justice Clarence Thomas dissented. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

6/ Dominion Voting Systems sued MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for more than $1.3 billion, alleging that the Trump ally spread a baseless conspiracy theory that its voting machines were rigged “because the lie sells pillows.” Trump’s lawyers, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, have also each been sued by Dominion for $1.3 billion in damages. (Axios / ABC News / CNBC / NPR)

7/ The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating communications between the rioters who attacked the Capitol and Roger Stone. For weeks Justice Department officials have debated whether to open a full investigation into Stone, but if they find messages showing that Stone knew about or took part in plans to disrupt the certification of Biden’s electoral victory, officials would have a basis to open a full criminal investigation into Stone. Trump commuted Stone’s sentence in July and pardoned him in late December. The pardon, however, does not protect Stone from future prosecutions. (New York Times / Washington Post)

8/ Trump will speak at next week’s Conservative Political Action Conference – his first public appearance since leaving office. Trump reportedly intends to attack Biden’s immigration plan and tell attendees that he is Republicans’ “presumptive 2024 nominee” for president. (Axios / The Guardian / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 17% of Trump voters believe Biden was legitimately elected president, while 73% say Biden wasn’t legitimately elected. (USA Today / Suffolk University)

Day 31: "We have a lot to do."

1/ The United States officially returned to the Paris climate accord, four years after the Trump administration abandoned the global climate pact. “This is a global existential crisis,” Biden said. “We can no longer delay or do the bare minimum to address climate change.” Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. would reduce its emissions by about 25% by 2025. The country, however, is only on track to achieve about a 17% reduction and Biden has promised to chart a path toward net-zero U.S. emissions by 2050. “We know that just doing Paris is not enough,” John Kerry said, Biden’s special envoy for climate. “We feel an obligation to work overtime to try to make up the difference. We have a lot to do.” (Associated Press / NBC News / NPR / CNN / Bloomberg / The Guardian / Reuters)

2/ Biden affirmed that the United States is “fully committed” to NATO but warned global leaders that “democratic progress is under assault” and the world faces an “inflection point” that could result in a tilt toward autocracy. Without mentioning Trump, Biden said “I know the past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship,” but the U.S. is “determined to reengage with Europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trusted leadership.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / NBC News / Bloomberg)

  • The Biden administration said it was ready to restore the Iran nuclear deal that the Trump administration abandoned, offering to hold talks with other world powers and Iran to discuss Tehran’s nuclear program. (NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg)

3/ Biden privately told a group of mayors and governors that the $15-an-hour minimum wage hike was unlikely to be in the final Covid-19 relief bill. “I really want this in there but it just doesn’t look like we can do it because of reconciliation,” Biden told the group. House Democrats, meanwhile, released the full text of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, which includes an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, $1,400 direct checks for Americans making $75,000 or less, an extension of $400 federal unemployment benefits, and money for small businesses. (Politico / CNN)

4/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office enlisted an expert on white-collar crime to investigate Trump and the Trump Organization. District Attorney Cyrus Vance is investigating possible tax and bank-related fraud, including whether the Trump Organization inflated the value of its properties to obtain loans and tax benefits. Mark Pomerantz will serve as a special assistant district attorney and work exclusively on the Trump investigation. (New York Times)

  • A venture capitalist who donated nearly $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Imaad Zuberi pleaded guilty to tax evasion for filing false foreign agent registration records and providing illegal campaign contributions while lobbying high-level U.S. officials. Zuberi funneled from foreign entities over five years between 2012 and 2016, including a $900,000 contribution to the Trump inaugural committee in December 2016. Zuberi was also fined $1.75 million and ordered to pay $15.7 million in restitution. (NBC News)

5/ The U.S. Capitol Police suspended six officers with pay for their actions during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Another 29 are under investigation. Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman “has directed that any member of her department whose behavior is not in keeping with the Department’s Rules of Conduct will face appropriate discipline.” The Justice Department, meanwhile, charged six people suspected of being members of the Oath Keepers, alleging that they “did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and others known and unknown” to force entry to the Capitol and obstruct Congress from certifying the election results. (CNN / NBC News / CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)

poll/ 56% of Americans are dissatisfied with U.S. gun laws and policy – the ninth consecutive year of dissatisfaction. (Gallup)

Day 30: "Restore common sense."

1/ The coronavirus pandemic cut life expectancy in the U.S. by an entire year in the first half of 2020 – the largest drop since World War II. Overall, Americans can now expect to live 77.8 years – similar to what it was in 2006. Life expectancy of the Black population, however, declined by 2.7 years to 72 years. The CDC noted that the data only reflects deaths that occurred during the first six months of 2020 and does not show the full impact of Covid-19. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / CNN)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~110,181,000; deaths: ~2,438,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,882,000; deaths: ~493,000; vaccinated: ~12.7% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Another 861,000 people filed for unemployment last week – up 13,000 from the prior week – and another 516,000 claims were filed last week for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program for gig and self employed workers. The total number of people claiming benefits in all unemployment programs was 18.34 million. According to the Labor Department, since the beginning of the pandemic some 2.5 million women have left the American work force, compared with 1.8 million men. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / New York Times)

  • More than 100 million workers in the world’s largest economies may need to switch occupation by 2030 as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerates changes to the labor force. (Bloomberg)

3/ The White House pledged $4 billion dollars to an international effort to get coronavirus vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. Despite more than 190 countries participating in the Covax program, the Trump administration opted out, partly because of Trump’s feud with the WHO. The U.S. will contribute an initial $2 billion in the coming days and the remaining $2 billion over the next two years. (Washington Post / NBC News)

4/ The U.S. attorney in Brooklyn and the FBI are investigating how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo handled the Covid-19 pandemic in the state’s nursing homes. Cuomo’s administration recently revealed that more than 15,000 people have died from the coronavirus in New York’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities – up from the 8,500 previously disclosed – and his top aide admitted in a call with state lawmakers that the state had withheld data because it feared that the Trump administration would use the information to begin a federal civil rights investigation. Democrats in the New York State Senate, meanwhile, accused Cuomo of a “cover-up” and are moving to strip him of the emergency powers granted during the pandemic. Cuomo also allegedly threatened to “destroy” a New York State Assemblyman’s political career if he didn’t help cover up the nursing home-related deaths. (NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

5/ Ted Cruz and his family flew to Cancun as 3 million Texans were left without power, safe drinking water, or heat amid freezing weather. After photos surfaced of his family boarding a flight from Houston, Cruz claimed he flew to Mexico for the night because his “girls asked to take a trip with friends” and he wanted to be a “good dad.” The CDC, however, has advised that Americans “avoid all travel to Mexico” due to the coronavirus pandemic and that “[a]ll air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test” before boarding a U.S.-bound flight. Cruz, meanwhile, booked his return ticket from Cancun to Texas at 6 a.m. today. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / CNN / Axios / Dallas Morning News)

6/ Biden approved emergency declarations for Oklahoma and Texas as the region battles the effects of severe winter weather. The declaration authorizes FEMA to coordinate disaster relief, including sending generators, blankets, and other supplies. (The Hill / Washington Post)

7/ Congressional Democrats introduced a Biden-backed bill to remake the U.S. immigration system and provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented Americans. The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, while unlikely to win Republican support, would provide an eight-year pathway to citizenship for 11 million people living in the country without legal status, remove restrictions on family-based immigration, and expand worker visas. “We have an economic and moral imperative to pass big, bold and inclusive immigration reform,” Sen. Bob Menendez said, adding: “We’re here today because last November 80 million Americans voted against Donald Trump and against everything he stood for. They voted to restore common sense, compassion, and competence in our government. And part of that mandate is fixing our immigration system, which is a cornerstone of Trump’s hateful horror show.” (NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Associated Press / Axios)

8/ The White House and congressional Democrats are divided over efforts to force Trump’s former White House counsel to testify about Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia inquiry. Under Trump, the Justice Department had been representing Donald McGahn in fighting a subpoena from House Judiciary Committee to testify at an oversight hearing. In a court filing, however, the Biden administration asked “whether an accommodation might be available with respect to the Committee’s request” to force McGahn to testify at an oversight hearing. House Democrats urged the court to move forward in the “interests of judicial efficiency or fairness to the parties.” Biden’s White House lawyers are reportedly worried about establishing a precedent that could someday force them to testify about internal matters. (New York Times)

9/ The Supreme Court has refused – for nearly four months – to act on emergency filings related to a Manhattan grand jury’s subpoena of Trump tax returns. The grand jury is seeking Trump personal and business records back to 2011, including information about the hush-money payments Michael Cohen made to cover up alleged affairs. The justices have not explained the delay.(CNN)

10/ Nearly 5,000 National Guard troops will remain in Washington through mid-March amid concerns that QAnon followers believe Trump will return to office March 4. During a hearing with defense officials, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said “Some of these people have figured out that apparently 75 years ago, the president used to be inaugurated on March 4. OK, now why that’s relevant, God knows, at any rate, now they are thinking maybe we should gather again and storm the Capitol on March 4. … That is circulating online.” (CNN / The Hill)

11/ South Carolina banned most abortions. After South Carolina lawmakers passed a restrictive “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban bill and S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster signed it into law – five weeks into the legislative session – legislators and members of the public began singing the words “Praise God” to the tune of “Amazing Grace.” (Associated Press / The State)

Day 29: "I'm tired of talking about Donald Trump."

1/ Biden suggested that anyone in the country who wants a vaccine should be able to get one “by the end of July.” Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said in a task force briefing that “We are on track to have enough vaccine supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July.” The U.S. has averaged 1.64 million doses a day over the last week and about 56.3 million total doses have been administered. If the pace of vaccination stays where it is now, Biden’s initial goal of 100 million Covid-19 vaccine shots in the first 100 days of his presidency would be met in late March – around Day 67 of his presidency. (New York Times / USA Today / The Guardian)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~109,837,000; deaths: ~2,428,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,812,000; deaths: ~490,000; vaccinated: ~12.2% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • About a third of U.S. military personnel are declining to be vaccinated. About 960,000 members of the military and its contractors have been vaccinated. (New York Times)

2/ Biden clarified that his goal is to open the majority of K-8 schools by the end of his first 100 days in office. When asked to explain what he meant by “open,” Biden said, “I think many of them five days a week. The goal will be five days a week” in person. Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration wants more than 50% of schools to have “some teaching” in person “at least one day a week” – not fully reopened – by the end of April. Kamala Harris, meanwhile, stressed that teachers should be given priority for Covid-19 vaccinations, but wouldn’t say if she believed that teacher vaccinations should be a prerequisite for reopening schools. Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, added that vaccinating all teachers against Covid-19 before reopening schools is a “non-workable” solution. (NPR / NBC News / Politico)

3/ The Biden administration will invest more than $1.6 billion to expand coronavirus testing and genetic sequencing. About $650 million will go toward testing in K-8 schools and homeless shelters, $815 million will increase manufacturing to address shortages in testing supplies, and $200 million will go to increasing genetic sequencing efforts to help track existing and new variants. The White House called the $200 million a “down payment” that would increase the number of virus samples that labs can sequence jumping from around 7,000 to around 25,000 each week. Testing coordinator Carole Johnson, meanwhile, described the $1.6 billion package a “pilot” that will serve as a bridge until Congress passes the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)

4/ Biden declined to support Democratic proposals to cancel up to $50,000 per borrower in student loan debt, saying “I will not make that happen.” Biden, however, said he was prepared to cancel $10,000 in debt, but anything more than that would require congressional action. Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, and other lawmakers introduced a resolution in early February calling on Biden to use executive action to wipe out up to $50,000 in student loan debt, arguing that the secretary of education has broad administrative authority to cancel the federal debt. In response to Biden’s dismissal to forgiving student debt, Schumer and Warren issued a joint statement saying that action is needed “to immediately deliver much-needed relief to millions of Americans.” “It’s time to act. We will keep fighting,” they added. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

5/ Economists warn that millions of jobs that have been eliminated by the coronavirus pandemic are permanent and unlikely to come back. A report coming out later this week from the McKinsey Global Institute says that 20% of business travel won’t come back and about 20% of workers could end up working from home indefinitely, which means fewer jobs at hotels, restaurants, and downtown shops. (Washington Post)

poll/ 52% of voters approve of the job Biden is doing as president. In February, 2017, voters gave Trump a 38% approval rating. (Quinnipiac)

✏️ Notables.

  1. The Biden administration will send generators to Texas amid ongoing power outages and freezing weather. Biden also declared a state of emergency in Texas over the weekend. (Axios)

  2. The Pentagon delayed promotions for two female generals over fears that Trump would replace them before leaving office. Then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed to delay their promotion recommendations for Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost of the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson of the Army until after the November elections on the assumption that the Biden administration would be more supportive. Both promotions are expected to go to the White House and then to the Senate for approval within the next few weeks. (New York Times)

  3. Dominion Voting Systems “imminently” plans to sue MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell over his claims about nonexistent election fraud. The suit would make Lindell the third Trump ally sued by Dominion after the company filed $1.3 billion suits against attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. (Daily Beast)

  4. Trump issued a highly personal statement attacking Mitch McConnell after McConnell voted no on impeachment but said he held Trump “practically and morally responsible” for the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6. Trump called McConnell a “dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack” who “doesn’t have what it takes,” claiming that McConnell cost Republicans the Senate and that senator won his reelection because of his endorsement. “If Republican senators are going to stay with him,” Trump said, “they will not win again.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News)

  5. Biden said he’s spoken to all former presidents “with one exception.” Trump was the first president in modern history to decline to meet with his successor. After confirming that he hasn’t spoken to Trump, Biden added: “I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump, don’t want to talk about him anymore.” [Editor’s note: Amen.] (CNN / Axios)

Day 28: "Get to the truth."

1/ The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee sued Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and two extremist groups, accusing them of conspiring to incite the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in order to interfere with Congress’ certification of the Electoral College count. The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP on behalf of Rep. Bennie Thompson, alleges that Trump and Giuliani, in collaboration with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 statute designed to protect lawmakers from violent interference in Congress’s constitutional duties. The suit, filed in federal court in Washington, says that by repeatedly claiming that the election was stolen, Trump and Giuliani “endorsed rather than discouraged” threats of violence from his supporters in the weeks leading up to the assault on the Capitol. And, at the Jan. 6 rally near the White House, the two “began stoking the crowd’s anger and urging them to take action to forcibly seize control of the process for counting and approving the Electoral College ballots.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Associated Press / NPR / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / CNN / Axios)

2/ The White House said Biden would support efforts to establish the creation of a “9/11-type commission” to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Nancy Pelosi said Monday that the House would move to establish an independent commission for Congress to “get to the truth” of the Capitol attack as well as “the interference with the peaceful transfer of power.” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the White House would also cooperate with Congress to deter similar episodes in the future. (Politico / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

3/ House Democrats are finalizing the details of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, aiming to vote on final legislation Feb. 26. Currently, the legislation would provide billions of dollars for schools and small businesses, extend unemployment benefits through the fall, provide $1,400 in direct payments, and gradually increase in the federal minimum wage to $15. While the full House could pass the legislation as soon as next week, two Democrats in the Senate have voiced opposition to raising the federal minimum wage. Any changes made in the Senate would mean that the bill would have to go back to the House for another vote. (New York Times / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~109,387,000; deaths: ~2,415,000
  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,740,000; deaths: ~488,000; vaccinated: ~12% of total population
  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

4/ Biden extended the federal moratorium on home foreclosure through the end of June, saying the pandemic had “triggered a housing affordability crisis.” Biden had previously extended the moratorium, which was set to expire at the end of January, until the end of March in an executive actions on his first day in office. The White House also extended the enrollment window to request forbearance mortgage and six months of additional forbearance for those who enroll on or before June 30. The moves will benefit about 2.7 million homeowners currently in Covid-19 forbearance and extend the availability of forbearance options for around 11 million other government-backed mortgages nationwide. (NBC News / CNBC / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Biden administration will increase coronavirus vaccine doses sent to states to 13.5 million a week – up from 11 million doses. The White House will also double vaccines doses shipped to pharmacies, increasing the number of doses per week from 1 million to 2 million. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the weekly vaccine doses sent to states represents a 57% increase in supply since Biden was inaugurated Jan. 20. About 12% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a vaccine. (Washington Post / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

Day 27: "A disgraceful dereliction of duty."

1/ Trump was acquitted for the second time in 13 months. The Senate voted 57-43 Saturday in favor of convicting Trump – one month and a week after insurrectionists incited a riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 – 10 votes short of the required two-thirds majority necessary for conviction. Republicans Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Patrick Toomey joined all 50 Democrats in voting to find Trump guilty of “incitement of insurrection” – the largest number of senators to vote to find a president of their own party guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. Trump is also the only U.S. president to have been impeached twice. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Politico / ABC News)

  • 👑 Six hours of paralysis: Inside Trump’s failure to act after a mob stormed the Capitol. “He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,” said one close Trump adviser. “If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.” (Washington Post)

  • 👑 One Legacy of Impeachment: The most complete account so far of Jan. 6. “Though Mr. Trump escaped conviction, the Senate impeachment trial has served at least one purpose: It stitched together the most comprehensive and chilling account to date of last month’s deadly assault on the Capitol, ensuring that the former president’s name will be inextricably associated with a violent attempt to subvert the peaceful transfer of power, the first in American history.” (New York Times)

2/ Before the vote to acquit, House impeachment managers unexpectedly called for witnesses after Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told her that Trump supported the mob in a phone call as the Jan. 6 attack was unfolding. Herrera Beutler said that McCarthy had relayed the details of his call with Trump to her, and that McCarthy asked Trump “to publicly and forcefully call off the riot.” Trump, instead, reportedly told McCarthy: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” House impeachment managers seized on her account, saying they wanted to subpoena her as a witness. The Senate then voted to call witnesses, which was reversed a few hours later after a deal to allow her statement read into the record. Trump’s attorney also threatened to seek depositions from 100 or more witnesses, which would have delayed Biden’s agenda by dragging out the trial. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Bloomberg / ABC News / NBC News)

3/ Mitch McConnell denounced Trump minutes after voting to acquit, saying Trump was guilty of a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.” In his post-acquittal speech, McConnell said that Trump was “morally and practically responsible for provoking” the Jan. 6 insurrection, but said he is “constitutionally not eligible for conviction” because he is no longer in office. The Senate trial occurred after Trump left office because McConnell said he would not call back the Senate before lawmakers were set to return Jan. 19 unless every senator agreed to do so. The House impeached Trump on Jan. 13. McConnell also suggested that Trump could still face criminal liability, saying “The Constitution makes perfectly clear that Presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the President has left office,” adding that Trump “didn’t get away with anything yet.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, called it “pathetic” for McConnell to have “kept the Senate shut down” and unable to receive the article of impeachment. Pelosi added that the 43 Republicans who voted to acquit Trump are “a cowardly group […] who apparently have no options, because they were afraid to defend their job, respect the institution in which they serve.” (New York Times / USA Today / NBC News / Washington Post)

4/ Trump celebrated the Senate voting to acquit him of inciting an insurrection minutes after the verdict was announced, calling the proceedings “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt” perpetuated against him by “one political party.” Trump suggested that the Democrats’ attempt to end his political career had failed, saying “our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.” Lindsey Graham said Trump remains the party’s “most potent force” even after his second impeachment and that “the Trump movement is alive and well.” Trump, however, has reportedly voiced concern about being charged related to Jan. 6 riot. (NPR / Bloomberg / New York Times / Politico)

  • New York prosecutors are investigating more than $280 million in loans Trump took out for four Manhattan buildings. In court filings, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said he is pursuing an investigation into possible insurance and bank fraud by the Trump Organization and its officers. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The Fulton County district attorney plans to investigate the post-Election Day phone call between Sen. Lindsey Graham and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as part of a criminal investigation into whether Trump or his allies broke Georgia laws while trying to reverse his defeat in the state.(Washington Post)

5/ Lawmakers in both parties called for a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to investigate why government officials and law enforcement failed to stop the attack on the U.S. Capitol. In a letter to House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi said “our next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type Commission to ‘investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021 domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex.’” A commission is the primary remaining option for Congress to try to hold Trump accountable for his role in the assault. Separately, two Senate committees will investigate security failures during the riots, and Nancy Pelosi has also asked the House for a review of the Capitol’s security process. (The Guardian / New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Associated Press)

poll/ 58% of American believe Trump should have been convicted. 61% said Trump’s conduct warranted him being impeached and put on trial. (ABC News)

poll/ 75% of Republicans say they’d like to see Trump play a prominent role in the Republican Party. Overall, 60% of Americans do not want Trump to play a prominent role in the party. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 62% of Americans say a third political party is needed – up from 57% in September. 33% of Americans say the two major parties are doing an adequate job representing the public. (Gallup)

✏️ Notables.

  1. For the first time since November, the daily average of new coronavirus infections in the U.S. fell below 100,000 – well below the average daily infection rate of 200,000 for December and nearly 250,000 in January. (NPR / NBC News)

  2. The U.S. is administering about 1.7 million coronavirus vaccines a day and more than 50 million Americans have now received the Covid-19 vaccine. (New York Times / ABC)

  3. Biden reopened the federal health insurance marketplace on for three months so that uninsured people can buy a plan and those who want to change their marketplace coverage can do so. (NPR / Axios)

  4. The WHO authorized the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. The vaccine will be distributed mainly to low- and middle-income countries as part of the global COVAX initiative. (Politico / Bloomberg)

  5. At least 32 million of the 142 million rapid Covid-19 tests distributed by the U.S. government to states last year weren’t used as of early February. The unused tests cost taxpayers $160 million. (Wall Street Journal)

  6. U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy plans to slow down mail delivery and make it more costly by raising postage rates and eliminating first-class mail. DeJoy, with the support of the agency’s bipartisan but Trump-appointed governing board, has discussed lumping all first-class mail into the same three- to five-day window as non-local mail. (Washington Post / NBC News)

  7. Deputy White House press secretary TJ Ducklo resigned after he berated and threatened a female reporter who asked about his relationship with another reporter as part of a story about a potential conflict. (Washington Post / CNN)

Day 24: "Ordinary political rhetoric."

⚖️ Trump’s Second Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 4.

What happened today? Trump’s legal team concluded its defense, accusing House impeachment managers of “political vengeance” and calling Trump’s second impeachment trial “a politically motivated witch hunt.” Trump’s team spent two hours and 32 minutes of the 16 hours allotted to present a defense, calling Democrats’ allegations that Trump incited the Capitol riot “patently absurd” and that his calls for supporters to “fight” on his behalf “ordinary political rhetoric” that fell short of the legal standard for incitement. “No thinking person could seriously believe that the president’s January 6 speech on the Ellipse was in any way an incitement to violence or insurrection,” Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s attorneys, said. Trump’s defense then showed a selectively edited video of Democrats using the words “fight” or “fighting” in political speeches. Trump’s other lawyer, Bruce Castor, echoed complaints of “cancel culture,” saying “Let us be clear: This trial is about far more than President Trump. It is about silence and banning the speech the majority does not agree with. It is about canceling 75 million Trump voters and criminalizing political viewpoints.” And, finally, Trump lawyer David Schoen complained about “the hatred, the vitriol, the political opportunism that has brought us here today.” He blamed Trump’s impeachment on “hatred, animosity, division, political gain – and let’s face it, for House Democrats, President Trump is the best enemy to attack.”

What’s next? The Senate completed a question-and-answer session, and a vote on whether to convict or acquit could come as early as Saturday.

1/ The CDC released updated guidance to help schools safely bring students back into classrooms during the pandemic. The agency now recommends a combination of in-person and remote learning, proper use of masks, social distancing of six feet, strict cleaning and maintenance of classrooms, and rapid contact tracing. The guidance doesn’t mandate school reopenings, but calls it “critical for schools to open as safely and as quickly as possible for in-person learning.” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky urged states to prioritize teachers for vaccination, saying it would serve as an “additional layer of protection,” but that schools need to keep up safety practices “for the foreseeable future.” (NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~108,070,000; deaths: ~2,379,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,478,000; deaths: ~481,000; vaccinated: ~10.9% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • The FDA agreed to allow Moderna to put as many as 14 doses in each vial of the company’s coronavirus vaccine — up from the current 10. Moderna currently supplies about half of the nation’s vaccine stock and a 14-dose vial could increase the vaccine supply by as much as 20%. (New York Times / Politico)

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration reportedly covered up the scope of the coronavirus death toll in New York’s nursing homes out of fear it could be used against them by the Trump administration. (New York Times / ABC News)

2/ Trump was sicker with Covid-19 than publicly acknowledged and officials believed he would need to be put on a ventilator. When he was hospitalized with the coronavirus in October, Trump’s blood oxygen levels dropped into the 80s. Covid-19 is considered severe when blood oxygen levels fall to the low 90s. Trump received the Regeneron antibody cocktail before he was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which was not widely available at the time. Once at the hospital, Trump received the dexamethasone, a steroid recommended for Covid-19 patients with severe or critical forms of the disease, who often need mechanical ventilation or supplemental oxygen. Trump also received a five-day course of the antiviral drug remdesivir. Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, repeatedly downplayed concerns at the time, saying he wanted “to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, his course of illness has had,” and that he “didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction.” (New York Times / CNN)

3/ The 2020 census data needed for legislative districts won’t be ready until Sept. 30 – six months after the March 31 deadline. The delay, first by the coronavirus pandemic and then by the Trump administration’s interference, threatens to upend the 2022 elections as states face tighter redistricting deadlines for Congress, as well as state and local offices. (New York Times / NPR)

4/ The Biden administration will phase in a new asylum process on Feb. 19 for tens of thousands of people seeking asylum at the southern U.S. border who have been forced to wait in Mexico under a Trump-era policy. The Department of Homeland Security plans to process about 300 people per day from among an estimated 25,000 people with “active cases” in the now-defunct “Remain in Mexico” program. (Associated Press / NPR)

5/ Biden’s deputy White House press secretary was suspended for one week without pay after verbally harassing and threatening a female reporter. T.J. Ducklo was put on leave following a Vanity Fair story reporting that Ducklo had made derogatory and misogynistic comments to a Politico reporter, including tell her “I will destroy you,” after learning that Politico was planning to publish an article about his relationship with a reporter at Axios. (NBC News / CNBC)

Day 23: "A new terrible standard."

⚖️ Trump’s Second Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 3.

What happened today? The House impeachment managers prosecuting Trump rested their case, saying that if Trump is not convicted, it sets “a new terrible standard for presidential misconduct.” The managers used their final day of arguments to show how the insurrectionists – using his specific words – carried out the attack on the Capitol at Trump’s direction, warning that Trump could incite more violence if not convicted. The managers also focused on Trump’s history of celebrating violence and his lack of remorse following the Jan. 6 insurrection to demonstrate why he should be convicted and barred from holding federal office again. “Senators, America, we need to exercise our common sense about what happened,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, said in his final arguments. “Let’s not get caught up in a lot of outlandish lawyers’ theories here. Exercise your common sense about what just took place in our country.”

What’s next? Trump’s defense team will begin their arguments tomorrow against conviction. Trump’s defense is not expected to use all 16 hours of their allotted time for presentations and instead plans finish its arguments in the Senate’s impeachment trial by Friday night. A verdict could come as early as the weekend. Democrats are looking for at least 17 Senate Republicans to join them in voting to convict Trump.

  • ✏️ Sources: New York Times / Politico / The Guardian / CNN / Bloomberg

  • 💻 Live blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / CNBC / CNN

  • ✏️ News and notes:

  • Sen. Tommy Tuberville told Trump on Jan. 6 that Pence had been evacuated from the chamber before rioters reached Senate. Pence was removed from the Senate at 2:14 p.m., according to video footage from that day. Trump tweeted at 2:24 p.m. that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” Meanwhile, Trump reportedly has not expressed remorse for putting Pence in that situation. (Politico / HuffPost)

  • The Justice Department said a leader of the Oath Keepers paramilitary group waited for Trump’s direction before the siege on the Capitol. The Justice Department filing says Jessica Watkins was “concern[ed] about taking action without his backing was evident in a November 9, 2020, text in which she stated, ‘I am concerned this is an elaborate trap. Unless the POTUS himself activates us, it’s not legit. The POTUS has the right to activate units too. If Trump asks me to come, I will. Otherwise, I can’t trust it.’ Watkins had perceived her desired signal by the end of December.” (CNN / New York Times)

  • A federal judge ordered a Proud Boy charged in the Capitol riot to be held without bond. Dominic Pezzola told a court that he was duped by Trump’s “deception” and “acted out of the delusional belief” that he was responding patriotically. (Politico)

1/ The Biden administration secured deals for another 200 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, increasing available supply by 50%. Biden promised last month to purchase an additional 200 million doses — 100 million from Pfizer and 100 million from Moderna. The additional doses are expected to be delivered and available this summer. (Washington Post)

2/ Biden rescinded Trump’s national emergency declaration over the U.S.-Mexico border. In Feb. 2019, Trump used the emergency proclomation to redirect billions of dollars for construction of a wall along the southern border. (Axios / USA Today)

3/ Senior Justice Department officials in 2020 repeatedly tried to block a search warrant for Rudy Giuliani’s records related to his activities in Ukraine. While career Justice Department officials supported the search warrant – about whether Giuliani had illegally lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs who had helped him look for dirt on Biden in 2019 –  political appointees raised concerns that the warrant would be issued too close to the election. The prosecutors tried again after the election, but political appointees at the Justice Department wouldn’t approve the warrant because Trump was still contesting the election, which was being led by Giuliani. (New York Times / CNN)

report/ Roughly 40% of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. could have been prevented if the nation’s average death rate matched other industrialized nations. The Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era report faulted Trump’s “inept and insufficient” response to Covid-19 for the death rate, saying his actions “caused a lot of citizens to fail to take it seriously and interfered with the kind of coordinated response they have been able to use in a lot of countries that are more successful than the U.S. in controlling the epidemic.” The report also said Trump weakening of the Affordable Care Act caused 2.3 million more Americans to become uninsured, which does not include those who lost health coverage during the pandemic. [Editor’s note: It’s important to highlight that the nation’s poor health outcomes can be traced back to more than four decades of health, economic, and social policies – not just Trump’s response to the pandemic.] (USA Today)

poll/ 66% of Republicans still believe Biden’s election was not legitimate. Overall, 65% of Americans view Biden’s 2020 victory as legitimate. (New York Times)

poll/ 39% of Republicans agreed that violence may be necessary to achieve political goals, while 31% of independents, and 17% of Democrats support taking violent actions if elected leaders do not defend the country. (NPR)

poll/ 29% of Republicans believe the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory that a group of government officials secretly worked to undermine the Trump administration. (Religion News Service)

Day 22: "Inciter in chief."

⚖️ Trump’s Second Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 2.

What happened today? House Democrats opened their impeachment case against Trump arguing that he “assembled, inflamed and incited” the attack against the U.S. Capitol because he “ran out of nonviolent” ways to overturn the result of the election. The House impeachment managers, calling Trump no “innocent bystander” but the “inciter in chief,” presented never-before-seen security footage from Jan. 6 of a pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol, played audio of Capitol Police declaring a riot, and methodically detailed a nearly minute-by-minute account of what happened once the Capitol was breached. The prosecution argued that Trump sought to “prime” his supporters for the deadly Capitol attack months before it happened by engaging in a series of “false, outlandish lies” that he could only lose the election through fraud, likening Trump’s actions to someone trying “to light the match.”

What’s next? The Senate has taken a break in the proceedings for dinner and will resume shortly. Each trial day is expected to last about eight hours, and House managers have 16 total hours to make their presentations, after which Trump’s team will have the same amount of time to present its defense. Thursday’s proceedings are scheduled to begin at noon Eastern.

1/ Trump was reportedly “not happy” and “frustrated” by the performance of his lawyers during the first day of his second impeachment trial. Trump was particularly angry at Bruce Castor, one of his lawyers, for praising the House impeachment manager’s presentation before delivering a meandering, nearly hour-long defense during the first day of the Senate impeachment trial. In fact, Trump’s other lawyer, David Schoen, was supposed to present first, but Castor told the Senate that they “changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers’ presentation was well done.” Castor also referred to Trump as the “former president,” conceding that Trump lost the 2020 election when “smart” voters elected Biden. One person familiar with Trump’s reaction said that on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the angriest, Trump “was an eight.” (New York Times / CNN / Politico / The Guardian)

  • Mitch McConnell signaled to Republicans that the vote on Trump’s impeachment is matter of conscience, suggesting that senators who disputed the constitutionality of the trial could still vote to convict. Six Republicans on yesterday voted in favor of the constitutionality of the Senate process. (Bloomberg / Politico)

2/ Georgia prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election result, including a January phone call where Trump pressured the state’s top elections official to “find” enough votes to reverse Biden’s victory. In letters to state Republican officials, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis requested that they preserve documents related to “an investigation into attempts to influence the administration” of the 2020 election, “with particular care being given to set aside and preserve those that may be evidence of attempts to influence the actions of persons who were administering that election.” Willis did not mention Trump by name, but the letters indicate that the office is conducting a criminal investigation. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Axios / NBC News)

3/ The CDC recommends double masking to reduce exposure to the coronavirus. A new study found that when you and another person double mask – i.e. wear a surgical mask with a cloth mask on top – the risk of transmitting the coronavirus falls more than 95%. The benefit falls to 80% if only one person wears a double mask. For optimal protection, the CDC study suggests improving the fit of the surgical mask – by knotting the ear loops and tucking in the sides close to the face to form a closer fit – so the mask fits snugly against your face. When only one person adjusted their surgical mask for a tighter fit, the protection benefit of double masking fell to 60%. The CDC continues to recommend that everyone age 2 and older should wear a mask when outside their home. (ABC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico / NPR)

  • The Biden administration is on track to meet its goal of administering 100 million Covid-19 shots in his first 100 days in office. The administration is averaging 1.5 million shots per day – up from 1.1 million two weeks ago. (NBC News)

4/ The White House clarified Biden’s school reopening goal, saying the administration wants more than 50% of schools to have “some teaching” in person “at least one day a week” – not fully reopened – by Day 100. In December, Biden said his goal was for “a majority of our schools” to be open within 100 days – a benchmark that many schools are already hitting. White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the objective “not the ceiling,” adding “hopefully, it’s more.” Last week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said “there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen” and that “vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.” Teachers, however, have called for more coronavirus testing, vaccinations and other safety measures before returning to classrooms. (USA Today / CNN / Bloomberg)

5/ The Biden administration “indefinitely” shelved the Trump administration’s forced U.S. takeover of TikTok. Last year, Trump ordered a ban on the Chinese-owned app, citing on national security concerns, unless it allowed for Oracle and Walmart take a large ownership stake in the popular video app. (Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

6/ Biden announced sanctions against Myanmar and those involved in the military coup. “The military must relinquish power seized and demonstrate respect for the role of the people,” Biden said as he signed an executive order to impose “strong export controls” and freeze U.S. assets that benefit Myanmar’s government. (Politico / NBC News)

poll/ 67% of Americans plan to get the Covid-19 vaccine or have already done so, 15% are certain they won’t, and 17% say probably not. (Associated Press)

poll/ 37% of Americans have a positive opinion of the Republican Party – down from 43% in November. 48% of Americans have a positive opinion of the Democratic Party. (Gallup)

Day 21: "This cannot be our future."

⚖️ Trump’s Second Senate Impeachment Trial:

What happened today?

  1. Trump’s impeachment trial kicked off in the Senate with House Democrats playing a video montage of Trump whipping up a crowd of supporters, encouraging them to march to the U.S. Capitol and “fight like hell,” showing the pro-Trump mob violently breaching the Capitol, attacking police officers, and invoking Trump’s name as they tried to disrupt the certification of the November election. “Senators, this cannot be our future. This cannot be the future of America,” Rep. Jamie Raskin said in opening remarks. “We cannot have presidents inciting and mobilizing mob violence against our government and our institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the people.”

  2. The first day of the proceeding were devoted to a debate over the constitutionality of the House prosecuting a president who has already left office. While Trump’s lawyers condemned the violence, they rejected the suggestion that he was responsible for it and maintained that the Constitution did not allow for an impeachment trial of a former president because it was meant to lead to removal. According to his defense attorneys, Trump was “horrified” by the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and that it is “absolutely not true” that Trump failed to quickly act to end the riot. In their revisionist history, Trump reportedly tweeted calls for peace “upon hearing of the reports of violence” and took “immediate steps” to mobilize resources to counter the rioters storming the building – these statements, however, conflict with the actual timeline of events. Bruce Castor, one of Trump’s attorneys, argued that Trump should not be punished for a “political speech,” and since he is “no longer is in office … the object of the Constitution has been achieved. He was removed by the voters.” House impeachment managers, meanwhile, argued that there is no “January exception” for presidents to escape repercussions through impeachment on their way out of office, saying the framers of the Constitution did not provide a waiver for accountability.

  3. After House managers and Trump’s team presented their arguments on whether the trial was constitutional, the Senate voted 56 to 44 to proceed with Trump’s impeachment trial. Six Republicans voted to affirm the constitutionality of the trial.

  4. ✏️ Sources: Associated Press / Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / NBC News / NPR

What’s next?

  1. Trump’s trial is adjourned until Wednesday, when each side will have up to 16 hours to present their case, spread out over two days per side. Senators will also have four hours to question the House managers and Trump’s attorneys.
  • 📝 News and Notes:

  • One of Trump’s impeachment lawyers sued him last year, accusing him of making “repeated claims” that mail voting is ripe with fraud “despite having no evidence in support of these claims.” Michael van der Veen filed a lawsuit against Trump, the USPS, and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in August on behalf of a client running for office, claiming that operational changes at USPS would make it harder for voters to cast ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. (Washington Post)

  • Trump – confident of his acquittal – plans a reemergence and retribution after his impeachment trial. (Politico)

  • 77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election. Hours after the United States voted, the president declared the election a fraud — a lie that unleashed a movement that would shatter democratic norms and upend the peaceful transfer of power. (New York Times)

  • Trump’s Jan. 6 Speech, Annotated. “The speech Trump gave at a rally just before the Capitol riot is at the center of the impeachment proceedings against the former president. Read and listen to the speech, with annotations on passages cited by the two sides.” (Wall Street Journal)

  • 💻 Live blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NPR / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / Axios / CNN

1/ The Biden administration will begin sending doses of Covid-19 vaccines to community health centers next week and boost the supply of vaccines sent to states by 5%. Since taking office, the number of doses sent to states has increased by 28% to 11 million doses a week. (NBC News / CNBC)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~106,741,000; deaths: ~2,335,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,161,000; deaths: ~467,000; vaccinated: ~10% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Johnson & Johnson’s suggested that people may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually – just like seasonal flu shots – over the next several years. (CNBC)

  • A team of WHO scientists investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic said it’s “extremely unlikely” that the virus was leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan. After 12 days of field work, the team said they found that the virus was spreading in Wuhan both inside and outside the Huanan Seafood Market, which indicates that the market was also not the original source of the outbreak. (Washington Post / NBC News / ABC News / New York Times)

2/ The office of Georgia’s secretary of state launched an investigation into Trump’s attempts to overturn the state’s election results. In December, Trump called Georgia officials amid an ongoing audit, asking Brad Raffensperger’s office to “find the fraud,” telling them they’d be a “national hero” for it. And on Jan. 2, Trump repeatedly demanded that Raffensperger “find” the 11,780 votes needed to overturn the results of the election in the state. (New York Times / ABC News)

3/ The Biden administration asked nearly all U.S. attorneys appointed during the Trump administration to resign. Several acting U.S. attorneys, who aren’t Senate confirmed or were appointed by the courts, will remain until a Biden appointee is approved by the Senate. The Justice Department, however, will allow John Durham to remain in the role of special counsel appointed to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia inquiry. (CNN / NBC News / New York Times)

4/ The Air Force will deploy B-1 bombers and approximately 200 personnel to Norway for the first time in order to react more quickly to potential Russia aggression. (CNN)

poll/ 56% of Americans would like the Senate to vote to convict Trump. The same percentage say Trump encouraged the violence at the Capitol. (CBS News)

poll/ 49% of Americans said they were certain or very likely to get a Covid-19 vaccine, while 19% said they were “somewhat likely” to get vaccinated, and 32% said they were “not likely.” (CNBC / Bloomberg)

Day 20: "More dire than we thought."

1/ The coronavirus variant first found in the U.K. – known as B.1.1.7 – is spreading rapidly across the U.S., doubling roughly every 10 days. The variant is more contagious than earlier forms of the coronavirus, may be more lethal, and the CDC warned that B.1.1.7 could become the predominant strain in the U.S. by March. Meanwhile, South Africa halted use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after evidence emerged that the vaccine offered only “minimal protection against mild-moderate disease” caused by B.1.351 – another variant, which was first seen in South Africa. The B.1.351 variant has already spread to at least 32 countries, including the U.S. Pfizer and Moderna, however, both said that studies indicate that their vaccines should grant protection against both variants, but are less effective against B.1.351. Biden, meanwhile, called the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, including the number of vaccine doses that were made available, “even more dire than we thought.” Biden added that it would be “difficult” to vaccinate most of the U.S. by summer. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~106,405,000; deaths: ~2,323,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,065,000; deaths: ~465,000; vaccinated: 9.8% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • The Supreme Court partly lifted restrictions on indoor worship services in California put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The restrictions set varying limits on attendance at religious services by county, depending on infection rates. The court blocked that total ban but left in place a 25% capacity restriction and the prohibition on singing and chanting. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • GOP Rep. Ron Wright died after an 18-day battle with COVID-19. A special election will likely be held in 2021 to select a new representative for the district. (Dallas Morning News / Politico)

2/ The House asked the Biden administration to release documents related to the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, “to understand the full scope and impact of efforts by the Trump White House to suppress coronavirus testing.” In a letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis alleged that the Trump administration “refused to cooperate” with its inquiries and that Trump officials “failed to fully comply with two subpoenas and at least 20 document requests” by the committee. The letter focuses on Trump administration adviser Dr. Paul Alexander, who downplayed the importance of testing people without symptoms and allegedly tried to suppress scientific data and pressure members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force to alter public information. In August, the CDC changed its Covid-19 testing guidance to say that people without symptoms “do not necessarily need a test” – even if they were exposed to an infected person. But in September, the CDC reversed the guidance, saying that anyone, including those without symptoms, who has been in close contact with an infected person needs a Covid-19 test. (CNN / CNBC / NPR)

3/ Congressional Democrats are expected to propose providing up to $3,600 per child to families as part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package. Under the proposal, the IRS would send $3,600 per child under the age of 6 over the year, or $3,000 per child of ages 6 to 17, phasing out the payments for those earning more than $75,000 and couples earning more than $150,000 per year. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / CNBC)

4/ Biden’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour would result in 1.4 million job losses, but lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty by 2025 and raise the income for 17 million people, according to a new study from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In its cost assessment of Biden’s “Raise the Wage Act of 2021,” the CBO said that the minimum wage increase would also increase the budget deficit by $54 billion over 10 years. While Biden said he didn’t expect the measure to make the $1.9 trillion covid relief package, he said he was prepared for a “separate negotiation” to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour from the current level of $7.25 an hour. “Look, no one should work 40 hours a week and live below the poverty wage,” Biden said. “And if you’re making less than $15 an hour, you’re living below the poverty wage.” (Washington Post / Reuters / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

  • Surprising exactly no one, 50 years of tax cuts for the wealthy have failed to “trickle down.” A London School of Economics study, which examined 18 developed countries from 1965 to 2015, shows that the incomes of the rich grew faster in countries where tax rates were lowered instead of trickling down to the middle class. (CBS News)

5/ Biden instructed the State Department to reengage with the United Nations Human Rights Council – reversing the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw nearly three years ago. The U.S. withdrew from the council in 2018 – calling the council “a cesspool of political bias” that is a “hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights” and “is not worthy of its name” – after the U.N.’s human rights chief called Trump’s policy of separating children at the border “unconscionable.” (NBC News / Politico / Washington Post)

6/ Biden, citing Trump’s “erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection,” said Trump should not receive intelligence briefings even though they typically have been given to former presidents. “I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings,” Biden said. “What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?” (CNN / NBC News / New York Times)

7/ Trump’s attorneys argued that the insurrection at the Capitol was perpetrated by people “of their own accord and for their own reasons” and not because Trump called on them to march on Congress and “fight like hell.” Trump’s lawyers, accusing House Democrats of engaging in “political theater” driven by “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” asserted in a new filing that Trump’s speech before the attack “did not direct anyone to commit unlawful actions,” and that he deserved no blame for the conduct of a “small group of criminals” because he was engaged in free speech protected by the First Amendment when he questioned the election results. Trump’s lawyers also argued that the Senate “lacks jurisdiction” and cannot convict a former president, calling the effort “patently ridiculous.” House impeachment managers, meanwhile, said: “We live in a Nation governed by the rule of law, not mob violence incited by Presidents who cannot accept their own electoral defeat.” (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / NPR / New York Times / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

  • The FBI charged 211 people in the Capitol riot – nearly two dozen had ties to right-wing extremist groups. (NBC News)

  • Trump’s election fraud lies have cost taxpayers at least $519 million in legal fees prompted by dozens of lawsuits, enhanced security in response to death threats against poll workers, repairs following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and more than $480 million for the military’s deployment through mid-March. (Washington Post)

  • Trump’s reelection campaign moved about $2.8 million of donor money to the Trump Organization – including more than $81,000 since Trump lost the election. (Forbes)

8/ Paul Manafort can’t be prosecuted in New York after Trump’s pardon. In October, a New York appeals court found that efforts to try Manafort for financial fraud violated the state’s double jeopardy law since Manafort had been convicted on similar charges in federal court. In December, Trump pardoned Manafort. Meanwhile, the double jeopardy defense is unlikely to help Stephen Bannon, who was also pardoned by Trump, because Bannon hasn’t been tried (or convicted) yet. (New York Times)

poll/ 67% of American’s approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus. In October, 61% said they disapproved of Trump’s response to the pandemic. (Washington Post)

poll/ 52% of Americans favor their senators voting to convict Trump in his second Senate impeachment trial, while 45% prefer their senators find him not guilty, and 3% are unsure. (Gallup)

poll/ 16% of Americans say democracy is working well or extremely well, while 45% think democracy isn’t functioning properly, and another 38% say it’s working only somewhat well. (Associated Press)

Day 17: "Enormous pain."

1/ The House and Senate both advanced a budget resolution, setting up passage of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan over near unanimous Republican opposition. The Senate passed the budget blueprint early Friday morning 51-50 on a party line vote after Kamala Harris broke the tie. The House then passed the resolution later Friday in a 219-209 vote. House and Senate committees will now draft legislation using Biden’s framework, which calls for money for vaccine distribution, funding for hospitals and schools, $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans, and expanded unemployment aid. Democrats are eyeing mid-March for final passage of the relief legislation. (NPR / New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Washington Post / Axios)

2/ Nearly 18 million Americans continue to receive unemployment benefits of some kind and there are about 10 million fewer jobs today than before the pandemic. More than 1 million Americans have filed first-time unemployment claims for the 46th consecutive week last week, while almost 40% of jobless workers – about 4 million people – are now classified as long-term unemployed, nearing the record 46% set following the Great Recession. The U.S. economy, meanwhile, added 49,000 jobs in January as the unemployment rate fell to 6.3%. (NBC News / NPR / CNN / CNBC / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Axios / Politico)

3/ Biden, responding to the jobs report, said “it is very clear our economy is still in trouble.” He added that many Americans are “really hurting” and that Congress has the opportunity “to do something consequential here.” Biden pledged “to act fast” on securing passage of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, making it clear that Democrats are willing to move forward without Republican support, while calling his American Rescue Plan “big,” “bold,” and “a real answer to the crisis we’re in.” Biden also pushed back on the Republicans’ Covid-19 relief counterproposal, which totaled to less than half of the $1.9 trillion White House plan, saying “Some in Congress think we’ve already done enough to deal with the crisis in the country. Others think that things are getting better and we can afford to sit back and either do little or nothing at all. That’s not what I see. I see enormous pain.” (CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / ABC News)

4/ Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered more than 1,000 active-duty troops to help speed up state Covid-19 vaccination efforts. Military personnel will begin arriving in California within the next 10 days with more missions “to come.” The Pentagon is still weighing a request from FEMA for up to 10,000 troops. Biden, meanwhile, will use the Defense Production Act to increase supplies of vaccine, tests, and protective equipment. (Politico / NBC News)

5/ The House voted to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from her two committee seats for embracing baseless conspiracy theories and supporting violent rhetoric against Democrats, including the assassination of Nancy Pelosi. The House voted 230-199 – with 11 Republicans joining every Democrat who voted – after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy declined to take away her committee assignments. After being removed from the Budget Committee and the Committee on Education and Labor, Greene called Democrats “morons,” and declared that she had been “freed” from “tyrannical government,” adding that “this is going to be fun!” (Politico / New York Times / ABC News / Bloomberg / NBC News / Washington Post / Axios / New York Times / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 47% of Americans believe the Senate should vote to convict Trump during his impeachment trial. 50% say Trump bears a great deal or quite a bit of the responsibility for the events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (Associated Press)

Day 16: "America is back."

1/ U.S. Covid-19 hospitalizations are at the lowest point since Thanksgiving as the rate of coronavirus vaccinations has accelerated. Hospitalizations declined by nearly 30% in the last three weeks to 91,000 patients – the lowest number since Nov. 28. More than 27 million Americans have received their first shot – higher than the total number of reported U.S. infections – and more than 6 million are fully inoculated. (ABC News / Washington Post)

  • Biden’s Covid-19 Response Team is considering sending masks directly to Americans. The Trump administration scrapped a similar plan last year, opting instead to send cloth masks to nonprofit organizations and state agencies. (NBC News)

  • Mitt Romney proposed sending at least $3,000 per child to millions of American families as a means of combating child poverty. Romney’s proposal would provide $4,200 a year for every child up to the age of 6 and $3,000 per year for every child 6 to 17. Democrats have drafted similar legislation that would provide $3,600 a year for children ages 0-5 and $3,000 a year for children aged 6-17. (Washington Post / CNBC / Axios / HuffPost)

2/ Weekly unemployment claims fell to 779,000 – the lowest level since the end of November. While claims remained well above the pre-pandemic peak of 695,000, it was the third consecutive decrease in initial claims. (Bloomberg / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

3/ House impeachment managers requested that Trump testify under oath during his own Senate impeachment trial next week about his involvement in the events that led to the Capitol riot Jan. 6. “In light of your disputing these factual allegations, I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath,” Rep. Jamie Raskin wrote in a letter to Trump. The letter comes two days after Trump’s legal team “denied many factual allegations set forth in the article of impeachment.” House impeachment managers invited Trump to testify either before or during his actual impeachment trial. The Senate could also seek to compel Trump’s testimony by subpoena. Trump’s defense team, meanwhile, rejected the invitation, accusing Democrats of waging a “public relations stunt.” (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / USA Today / Associated Press / Axios)

  • A voting technology company filed a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, several of the network’s prominent hosts, Rudy Giuliani, and Sidney Powell. In its 276-page complaint, Smartmatic argues that Giuliani and Powell “created a story about Smartmatic” and that “Fox joined the conspiracy to defame and disparage Smartmatic and its election technology and software.” (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Biden will halt and reverse several Trump administration foreign policy initiatives, including planned troop withdrawals in Germany and support for the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen that has resulted in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. “America is back, diplomacy is back,” Biden said at the State department, adding that his administration would work toward “reclaiming our credibility and moral authority.” Biden also pledged to strengthen relationships with U.S. allies, saying they have “atrophied from four years of neglect and abuse” under Trump. (Bloomberg / CNBC / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Axios / The Guardian)

  • Biden is expected announcement that he intends to allow more refugees into the United States this year. Trump steadily lowered the annual cap on refugees from the 110,000 in 2016 to a record low 15,000. (New York Times)

poll/ 39% of Americans on average are satisfied with life in the U.S. – the lowest in two decades. (Gallup)

poll/ 61% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of his job in his first days in office. Nearly all modern presidents have had approval ratings averaging 55% or higher over their first three months in office. Trump’s approval rating, however, never surpassed 50%. (Associated Press)

What’s next: The House will vote on whether to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments; and a “vote-a-rama” is underway in the Senate, a sort of free-for-all amendment procedure as part of the budget reconciliation process, known as “the worst part of the United States Senate.”

Day 15: "We need to act."

1/ Biden urged congressional Democrats to press ahead with the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, saying “I’m not going to start my administration by breaking a promise to the American people.” Biden said he was open to negotiating the price tag for his Covid-19 relief proposal, including narrowing the distribution of $1,400 stimulus checks to focus on poor and middle-class people, but that he wouldn’t reduce the amount of the stimulus checks. “I think we can better target the number,” Biden said, but “We need to act — we need to act fast.” (NPR / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~104,222,000; deaths: ~2,263,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~26,523,000; deaths: ~450,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said teachers do not need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 before schools can safely reopen. “There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated,” Walensky said. “Vaccinations of teachers is not a prerequisite for safely reopening schools.” (CNBC)

  • California and New York announced plans for stadium sites for mass Covid-19 inoculations. (NBC News / Bloomberg)

  • The AstraZeneca vaccine may slow transmission of the coronavirus. (New York Times)

2/ The Senate approved a power-sharing agreement for governing the upper chamber that will allow Democrats to take control of committees. Without the so-called organizing resolution for the evenly-split Senate, Republicans had remained in control of committees and the confirmation process for Biden’s nominees. (CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

3/ More than 370 Democratic congressional aides signed an open letter to senators urging them to convict Trump for inciting a violent “attack on our workplace” that threatened the peaceful transition of power. “As congressional employees, we don’t have a vote on whether to convict Donald J. Trump for his role in inciting the violent attack at the Capitol, but our senators do,” they wrote. “And for our sake, and the sake of the country, we ask that they vote to convict the former president and bar him from ever holding office again.” The staff members described ducking under office desks, barricading themselves in offices, and watching as rioters “smashed” their way through the Capitol on Jan. 6, blaming Trump and his “baseless, months long effort to reject votes lawfully cast by the American people.” (New York Times / CNN)

4/ The House will vote Thursday on whether to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments after Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy failed to remove the conspiracy theorists for her past comments that Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings were a hoax, and her endorsement of violence against Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat, said that “it is clear there is no alternative to holding a floor vote on the resolution to remove Representative Greene from her committee assignments” on the Education and Labor Committee, and the Budget Committee. (New York Times / CNN / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post)

5/ The House adopted rules to fine lawmakers up to $10,000 for bypassing security measures that were enacted after the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The measure passed on a 216-to-210 vote, with all but three Democrats present voting in favor and all Republicans present voting “no.” In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “It is beyond comprehension why any member would refuse to adhere to these simple, commonsense steps to keep this body safe.”(Washington Post / NBC News)

6/ The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office opened an investigation into Steve Bannon. Trump pardoned Bannon, who was indicted on federal fraud charges for his role in a fundraising scheme to build a border wall. Bannon and three others were arrested Aug. 20 and indicted on accusations they stole from hundreds of thousands of people who donated to the We Build the Wall campaign. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

7/ The Space Force “absolutely” has the “full support of the Biden administration,” according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki. On Tuesday, Psaki responded to a question about the future of Air Force branch established by Trump, saying: “Wow. Space Force. It’s the plane of today. It is an interesting question. I am happy to check with our Space Force point of contact. I’m not sure who that is. I will find out and see if we have any update on that.” The House Armed Services Committee’s top Republican called on Psaki to “immediately apologize” for her remarks, which he saw as dissmissive of the guardians in the Space Force. (Axios / New York Times / Politico)

poll/ 24% of Americans say they will likely never get the coronavirus vaccine if they can help it. 50%, meanwhile, plan to get the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as they are allowed, while 19% say they prefer to let other people get it first. (Monmouth University)

poll/ 78% of Americans support the $1,400 stimulus checks Biden is calling for, including 90% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans. 68% of Americans support the $1.9 trillion stimulus package. (Quinnipiac)

Day 14: "Moral failing."

1/ House impeachment managers accused Trump of whipping the crowd in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 “into a frenzy” and then aiming them “like a loaded cannon” at the Capitol. In a memorandum filed ahead of Trump’s second impeachment trial, the House’s nine impeachment managers said Trump was “singularly responsible” for the riot, accusing him of “a betrayal of historic proportions.” They added: “Trump’s responsibility for the events of January 6 is unmistakable” and that his “abuse of office threatened and injured our democratic order” and “his conduct endangered the life of every single member of Congress, jeopardized the peaceful transition of power and line of succession, and compromised our national security.” (Washington Post / NPR / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN / ABC News / CBS News)

2/ Trump’s lawyers denied that he sought to subvert the election results and incite the deadly assault on the Capitol, arguing that the trial is unconstitutional because he is out of office. In a 14-page response to the House’s impeachment charge, Trump’s lawyers argued that Trump did not incite the crowd on Jan. 6 “to engage in destructive behavior” and suggested that case was “substantially flawed” and should be dismissed. Trump’s lawyers also denied that he was “factually in error” when he claimed that he had won the election “in a landslide,” claiming “insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th president’s statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies they were false.” (New York Times / Politico / CNN / ABC News / Bloomberg)

3/ The Biden administration will distribute Covid-19 vaccine doses to retail pharmacies across the nation. Biden’s team said they would begin shipping roughly one million doses per week to about 6,500 pharmacies nationwide as a trial run. White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients also announced that the administration will increase the weekly allocation of vaccines going to states by 5%, bringing the weekly total shipment of vaccines to 10.5 million per week. (Politico / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Biden will form a task force to reunite families separated at the southern border under Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, which an administration official called a “moral failing.” Biden will also sign two other executive orders to authorize a review of Trump’s immigration policies that limited asylum and slowed down legal immigration into the U.S. “Trump was so focused on the wall he did nothing to address the root causes of why are people are coming to our southern border — it was a limited, wasteful and naive strategy, and it failed,” a senior administration official said. “People continue to migrate to the United States — even today — because of it. President Biden’s approach is to deal with immigration comprehensively, fairly and humanely.” (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Associated Press / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CBS News)

5/ The Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security – the first Latino and immigrant to lead DHS. Despite opposition from Senate Republicans, Mayorkas secured enough votes for confirmation, by a 56-43 vote. DHS has not had a Senate-confirmed secretary since April 2019, when Trump ousted Kirstjen Nielsen. (Washington Post / NPR / USA Today / CNN / Associated Press)

6/ Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin dismissed hundreds of members of the Pentagon’s policy advisory boards, including the Trump administration’s last-minute nominees. Austin fired all members serving on DoD’s advisory boards and directed the immediate suspension of all committee operations while the Pentagon completes a “zero-based review” of at least 42 defense advisory committees to be completed by June. Last week, Austin suspended the onboarding process for Trump administration nominees to Pentagon advisory boards. (Wall Street Journal / Politico)

7/ The Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg as Transportation Secretary – the first openly gay Cabinet secretary. Buttigieg was confirmed with bipartisan support by a vote of 86-13. (NPR / USA Today / Washington Post)

8/ Mitch McConnell likened Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s “loony lies and conspiracy theories” to a “cancer” on the Republican Party. While McConnell didn’t mention Greene by name in his three-sentence statement, Greene responded on Twitter, writing “the real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully.” McConnell also released a statement defending Rep. Liz Cheney, who has come under fire for voting to impeach Trump last month. (The Hill / NBC News / CNN / NPR / New York Times)

9/ A post-mortem by Trump’s chief pollster shows that Trump lost the 2020 election largely due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and voter perception that he wasn’t honest or trustworthy. Trump also lost ground with every age group in the 2020 election, compared to 2016, but he had his “greatest erosion with white voters, particularly white men.” It is unclear if Trump has seen the 27-page report prepared by Tony Fabrizio. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 13: "The time for decisive action is now."

1/ The Biden administration reached a $231 million deal for 8.5 million at-home, over-the-counter Covid-19 rapid tests. The test, made by Ellume, “can detect Covid with roughly 95 percent accuracy within 15 minutes.” The FDA granted an emergency use authorization in December for the tests, which are expected to cost about $30 each. (NPR / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~103,334,000; deaths: ~2,236,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~26,297,000; deaths: ~443,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Top Trump officials actively lobbied Congress to deny states any extra funding for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout last fall. Paul Mango, the former deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, repeatedly argued that states didn’t need more federal funding because they hadn’t spent the $200 million provided by the government earlier in the year. (STAT News)

  • The Biden administration is trying to locate upwards of 20 million vaccine doses that have been sent to states but have yet to record as being administered to patients. (Politico)

  • The Biden administration warned health care providers against holding Covid-19 vaccine doses for second shots that could be administered for initial shots. Andy Slavitt, a senior adviser to the White House’s Covid response team, said providers should be confident that there will be a steady supply of doses and that stockpiling “does not need to happen and should not happen.” (CNN / Politico)

  • Dodger Stadium’s Covid-19 vaccination site was temporarily shut down after about 50 protesters gathered at the entrance, which included members of anti-vaccine and far-right groups. (Los Angeles Times)

  • FEMA asked the Pentagon to ready as many as 10,000 troops to support 100 Covid-19 vaccination sites nationwide. The goal is to administer 450,000 vaccinations a day. (CBS News)

2/ A group of 10 Republican senators proposed a $618 billion coronavirus relief plan – about one-third the size of Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal. The proposed GOP package provides $160 billion for testing and vaccines, extends the $300 weekly unemployment insurance payments until July, and provides $1,000 direct payments. Democratic leaders, meanwhile, are prepared to pass Biden’s stimulus plan through a process called budget reconciliation, which allows legislation to pass with just 51 votes. (NBC News / Politico / CBS News / NPR / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN / Axios / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Biden is reportedly open to scaling down his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package but the $618 billion GOP counterproposal is “not going to scratch the itch.” In particular, the White House said it is open to scaling down stimulus checks for families making more than $150,000 per year. According to Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, “The risk is not that [Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion package] is too big. The risk is that it is too small.” Biden, meanwhile, agreed to meet with Republicans senators to discuss their Covid counterproposal. Ahead of the meeting, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer filed a joint budget resolution that they said will pave the way for “the landmark Biden-Harris coronavirus package,” declaring that “the time for decisive action is now.” (CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)

4/ The Congressional Budget Office projected that the economy will recover to its pre-pandemic size by the middle of 2021 – faster than previously expected. The nation’s unemployment rate, however, will remain above its pre-pandemic levels through the rest of this decade. Under the CBO’s projections, the unemployment rate would average 4.1% from 2026 to 2031, well above the 3.7 percent it averaged in 2019. The CBO projections do not assume any new stimulus, including Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan. (Washington Post / CNBC / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump’s five impeachment lawyers quit after he wanted his defense to focus on his baseless claim that the election was stolen from him. Trump’s lawyers planned to question whether impeaching a president who has already left office was unconstitutional. Trump, however, wanted his defense team to argue during his second impeachment trial that he won the 2020 election and that it was stolen from him while citing his own false claims of election fraud. Trump also reportedly insisted that the case was “simple” and has told advisers he could argue it himself and save the money on lawyers. Trump’s Senate trial for his role in inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol begins Feb. 9. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Politico / NBC News)

  • Trump named two lawyers, David Schoen and Bruce Castor, who will represent him in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate. Schoen has disputed official reports that Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of sexually abusing dozens of girls, killed himself in jail, and maintains his belief that Epstein may have been murdered. Castor, meanwhile, declined to prosecute Bill Cosby in 2005. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times)

  • The rally that preceded the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol was funded in part by a top Trump campaign donor. The heiress to the Publix Super Markets chain, Julie Jenkins Fancelli, donated about $300,000 through a top fundraising official for Trump’s 2020 campaign, which Alex Jones, a noted conspiracy theorist, helped facilitate. Fancelli paid for more than half of the roughly $500,000 rally at the Ellipse where Trump spoke. Fancelli tapped Caroline Wren, who served as a deputy to Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, at Trump Victory, to organize the event with Ali Alexander, a far-right activist and leader of the “Stop the Steal” movement. Wren was listed as a “VIP Advisor” in the National Park Service permit for the rally. Federal Election Commission records show that Fancelli has donated more than $1 million to Trump Victory, Trump’s campaign, and the Republican National Committee since 2018. (Wall Street Journal / ProPublica)

  • Trump and the Republican Party raised $255.4 million in the weeks following the Nov. 3 election as he tried to undermine and overturn the results. (New York Times)

6/ A New York judge ordered Trump’s tax firm to turn over documents to New York Attorney General Letitia James. In December, Judge Arthur Engoron of State Supreme Court in Manhattan ordered the Trump Organization to produce records related to an investigation into whether Trump had inflated his assets in financial statements to secure bank loans and reduce his tax bill. The Trump Organization argued that the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege. On Friday, Justice Engoron ordered the Trump Organization to release even more documents to James’s office, rejecting the lawyers’ claim that the documents were privileged. (New York Times / CNN)

  • The Scottish Parliament will vote on an Unexplained Wealth Order into Trump’s finances. (The Scotsman)

7/ House Democrats introduced a resolution to force Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her two committee assignments for her inflammatory and false statements, including promoting conspiracy theories that the nation’s deadliest mass shootings were staged and that the 2018 California wildfires were started by “Jewish space lasers.” Greene also endorsed violence against Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats before she was elected. Last week, Greene was assigned seats on the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Budget Committee. (Politico / NBC News)

Day 10: "Wake-up call."

1/ Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine was 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe illness in a global study. In the U.S., the vaccine was 72% effective, but the efficacy rate dropped to 57% in South Africa, where a highly contagious variant is driving new cases. The vaccine was particularly effective at stopping severe disease in all regions, preventing 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths. Johnson and Johnson said it planned to apply for emergency authorization of its vaccine from the FDA, putting it on track to receive clearance later in February. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico / New York Times / The Guardian / NBC News)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~101,880,000; deaths: ~2,202,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~25,875,000; deaths: ~436,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci called the new coronavirus variants a “wake-up call” to move faster on vaccinating the population. The highly transmissible variant, known as B.1351, has been identified in more than two dozen countries and has played a role in prompting Canada, Britain and Germany to introduce new travel bans. (Washington Post)

  • The Pentagon could send active-duty troops to assist with vaccines at roughly 100 vaccine sites nationwide. (New York Times)

2/ The Trump administration spent $200 million to send more than 8,700 ventilators to countries around the world last year with no way to keep track of where they ended up. In only 12 of 43 countries did the federal government have a good idea where the ventilators are. And, a Government Accountability Office report said it was unable to identify the Trump administration’s “criteria used for what ventilators went to what countries.” (Washington Post)

3/ There are currently 106 pending Republican-backed bills across 28 states that would restrict access to voting despite the 2020 election being “the most secure in American history.” Nearly a year ago, there were 35 restrictive bills pending across 15 states. (The Guardian / Brennan Center for Justice / The Hill)

  • A Republican Arizona lawmaker introduced a bill that would give the state Legislature the ability to revoke the secretary of state’s election certification at any time before the presidential inauguration. The bill rewrites parts of the state’s election law, such as sections on election observers and securing and auditing ballots, but also grants the Legislature, which is currently under GOP control, the ability to revoke the secretary of state’s certification “by majority vote at any time before the presidential inauguration.” (NBC News)

4/ The FBI said two pipe bombs discovered on Jan. 6 near the Democratic and Republican party headquarters were planted the night before the insurrection at the Capitol. The reward for information leading to the location, arrest, and conviction of the person or people responsible for placing the bomb is now $100,000. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • Some House lawmakers are privately refusing to work with each other, as Democratic leaders are putting pressure on the Republican leadership to denounce Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who endorsed violence against members of Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, warned that “the enemy is within,” after two-thirds of the House Republicans voted to overturn the election hours after lawmakers were attacked by a mob on Jan. 6 demanding that very action. (Politico / Washington Post / The Hill / New York Times)

  • The acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police called for permanent fencing around the Capitol building. Capitol Police will also be stationed at airports in Washington, D.C., and at the railroad terminal at Union Station to provide security on days with increased lawmaker travel. (ABC News / NBC News / New York Times)

5/ The Pentagon suspended the processing of a number of Trump’s last-minute appointees to defense advisory boards. The move effectively prevents a number of Trump allies, including Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, from serving on the panels for the time being. The Biden team, meanwhile, is looking into whether it can replace dozens of Trump’s last-minute appointments to boards and commissions across the government. (Politico)

6/ Putin agreed to extend the New START nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States for five years – a week before the pact was due to expire. The treaty limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. Russia had long proposed prolonging the pact, but the Trump administration waited until last year to start talks. (Politico)

7/ The former FBI lawyer who admitted to doctoring an email that officials used to justify secret surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser was sentenced to 12 months of probation. Kevin Clinesmith admitted last August that he had altered an internal FBI email in the course of seeking a court’s permission to continue government surveillance of Carter Page, changing an e-mail about Page so that it said he was “not a source” for the CIA when he had been one. Prosecutors had asked that Clinesmith spend several months in prison for his crime. (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post)

Day 9: "Beyond the pale."

1/ Democrats plan to bypass Republicans and approve a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on a party-line basis using budget reconciliation. The process allows some legislation tied to the budget to pass the Senate with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster. Republicans have repeatedly rejected Biden’s plan, which would provide a $1,400 check, increase and extend federal unemployment, provide funds for vaccine distribution, state and local governments, and schools. Press secretary Jen Psaki also ruled out splitting up the package, saying the Biden administration is “not going to do this in a piecemeal way or break apart a big package meant to address the crisis we’re facing.” (Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~101,254,000; deaths: ~2,185,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~25,709,000; deaths: ~432,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Covid-19 Live Blogs:

  • Scientists warn the United States is in a “race against new variants” of the coronavirus. A new variant, called P.1, emerged in early December in Brazil. The first confirmed case of P.1 in the U.S. was detected Monday. A separate variant that is thought to have emerged in South Africa has forced Moderna and Pfizer to reformulate their COVID-19 vaccines, creating “booster” shots to make sure the vaccines maintain their efficacies. (NPR / NBC News)

  • Health officials identified the first U.S. cases of the coronavirus variant that was initially detected in South Africa. The CDC said the variant, known as B. 1.351, has been found in South Carolina. The B. 1.351 variant is considered to be even more worrisome than the B.1.1.7 variant first seen in the United Kingdom. (NPR / Bloomberg / Politico / Washington Post)

  • The New York attorney general accused the state of severely undercounting Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes, saying that the official tally of about 8,500 may be off by as much as 50%. (New York Times / Politico / Axios)

2/ Biden signed two executive actions to expand access to reproductive health care and health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. “There’s nothing new that we’re doing here other than restoring the Affordable Care Act and restoring Medicaid to the way it was before Trump became president,” Biden said. “Because by fiat, he changed — made [it] more inaccessible, more expensive and more difficult for people to qualify for either of those two plans.” The order instructs the Department of Health and Human Services to open a special enrollment period for the ACA from Feb. 15 to May 15, giving Americans who lost their employer-based health insurance due to the pandemic an opportunity to sign up for coverage. Biden also issued a presidential memorandum unwinding the so-called Mexico City Policy, which prohibits international non-profits from receiving U.S. funding if they provide abortions, advocate to legalize and expand abortion access, or provide abortion counseling. The memorandum also directs the HHS to “take immediate action to consider” whether to remove regulations under Title X that supports family planning. (NPR / Politico / CBS News / Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / The Guardian)

3/ The U.S. economy shrank by 3.5% in 2020 – the worst year for economic growth since World War II. It’s the first time the economy has contracted for the year since 2009, when GDP shrank by 2.5%. (Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ Senators are contemplating censuring Trump as an alternative to an impeachment trial, which will likely result in his acquittal as it’s become clear that Democrats won’t find the 17 Republican votes needed for a conviction. Susan Collins and Tim Kaine plan to file a censure resolution that Trump “gave aid and comfort” to the insurrectionists by “repeatedly lying about the election, slandering election officials, pressuring others to come to Washington for a wild event and encouraging them to come up to Congress.” A censure resolution requires only a simple majority vote and could prevent Trump from holding office again. Democratic senators said they’re ready move on to coronavirus pandemic relief, climate legislation, and Biden’s Cabinet confirmations. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Axios / Politico)

5/ After the Trump administration relocated the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters to Colorado, more than 87% of staffers either quit or resigned. A total of 287 BLM employees left the job while 41 people moved to the new office in Colorado. About 95% of the more than 9,000 BLM staffers were working outside of Washington before the relocation took place. (Washington Post)

6/ House Republicans appointed a conspiracy theorist – who called school shootings a hoax – to the committee overseeing education. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has openly supported and spread conspiracy theories, including QAnon, for years, wrote on Facebook in 2018 that she agreed that the Parkland massacre that killed 17 students was a “false flag,” and posted a video in 2020 harassing a Parkland survivor, who was visiting Capitol Hill to lobby for gun safety measures. Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Greene’s appointment “absolutely appalling” and “beyond the pale,” saying she was “concerned about […] Republican leadership […] willing to overlook, ignore those statements.” Another post showed Greene endorsing executing top Democrats — including Pelosi — in 2018 and 2019. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / NPR)

Day 8: "It's time to act."

1/ The Department of Health and Human Services diverted millions of dollars in federal funds intended for vaccines research and public health emergencies to pay for unrelated salaries, administrative expenses, the removal of furniture, news subscriptions, and legal services. In 2018, an unidentified whistleblower alleged the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response had been misusing money since at least 2010 that Congress had allocated for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. A HHS inspector general report says the agency couldn’t account for $517.8 million from 2007 to 2016. And, as recently as fiscal year 2019, more than $25 million was improperly taken from BARDA. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / Axios)

2/ The Department of Homeland Security warned of “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” in the U.S. The DHS bulletin said the threat of violence – spurred by “grievances fueled by false narratives” about the unfounded claims about the 2020 election and “anger over COVID-19 restrictions … and police use of force” – will persist for “weeks” following Biden’s inauguration. The National Terrorism Advisory System was last used a year ago to warn of potential retaliation by Iran for the U.S. assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani. A year before that, DHS highlighted the threat from foreign terrorist groups, like ISIS or al-Qaida. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / Politico / Axios)

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly endorsed executing Democratic leaders and federal agents in 2018 and 2019 before being elected to Congress. In January 2019, Greene “liked” a comment that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and in other posts, Greene “liked” comments about executing FBI agents who, she believed, were part of a “deep state” working against Trump.(CNN / Washington Post)

  • A second police officer died by suicide following the insurrection at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. A third member of law enforcement died from injuries he sustained during the Capitol attack. (Politico)

3/ House and Senate Democrats introduced legislation that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st state. The bill, first introduced in 2013, would give the District full authority over local issues and grant it full representation in Congress. While the bill could pass the House, its unlikely to clear the Senate because Democrats would need to overcome a filibuster for the legislation to pass. Meaning, they’d need at least 10 Republicans to join them. Most GOP lawmakers, however, are opposed to the legislation because D.C.’s congressional representation would likely be Democratic. (NBC News / The Hill)

4/ Democrats reintroduced the Raise the Wage Act, which would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25, and hasn’t been increased since 2009. The majority of Republicans oppose the measure. (CNN / CNBC)

5/ The Biden administration started staffing a bipartisan commission to study reforms to the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary. Between nine and 15 members are expected to be appointed to the commission, which will study structural changes as part of a broader court review and reform effort. Biden, who is “not a fan of court packing,” proposed the commission in response to the Republican push to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court weeks before the November election. (Politico)

6/ The Biden administration will resume contact with Palestinian leaders and restore U.S. contributions to the U.N. agency which provides aid to Palestinians. Trump’s policies overwhelmingly favored the interests of Israel’s government, and the administration closed the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Washington, D.C., stopped contributions to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognized Israeli sovereignty, and presented a peace proposal which left all Israeli West Bank settlements in place. (NPR)

7/ The Biden administration paused arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as part of a review of Trump administration agreements worth billions of dollars. The Trump administration pushed through arms sales to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi in 2020 as part of agreements to normalize relations with Israel. In 2019, Trump declared a national security “emergency” in order to authorize a multibillion-dollar sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, which bypassed congressional review. (Wall Street Journal / CNN)

8/ Biden affirmed the United States’ commitment to NATO, saying said he “strongly, strongly, strongly” backs the alliance’s collective defense. In 2017, Trump declined to pledge “unwavering” commitment to a provision in the NATO charter that commits members to rise to the defense of others in the pact. Trump also called the alliance “obsolete” during his first presidential campaign. (Bloomberg)

9/ Biden replaced the director of the nation’s immigration court system. During James McHenry’s tenure, the Trump administration placed quotas on the number of cases immigration judges should complete, while restricting their ability to grant asylum, close cases, and suspend deportation proceedings for certain immigrants. Jean King will take over on an acting basis as director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review. (Politico / BuzzFeed News / CBS News)

10/ Biden warned the climate crisis poses an “existential threat” that needs to be addressed “with a greater sense of urgency.” Biden then signed executive orders directing the government to elevate climate change to a national security priority, pause oil and gas leasing on federal land, conserve 30% of the country’s lands and waters in the next 10 years, double offshore wind energy, and move to an all-electric federal vehicle fleet, among other changes. “We have already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis, we can’t wait any longer,” Biden said. “We see it with our own eyes, we feel it in our bones. It’s time to act.” (NBC News / Associated Press / The Guardian / Politico / New York Times)

Day 7: "Down into the gutter of rancor and vitriol."

1/ Global Covid-19 cases topped 100 million – less than three months after the world hit 50 million cases and just over a year after the first confirmed U.S. case. The U.S. accounts for more than 25 million infections. (NBC News / CNN / CNBC)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~100,092,000; deaths: ~2,152,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~25,408,000; deaths: ~425,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Biden will reopen the Affordable Care Act marketplace and reverse changes to Medicaid. (Washington Post / Reuters)

  • Several hundred Biden staffers have been administered the coronavirus vaccine “to ensure a COVID-safe working environment around the president and key leaders who have national security and continuity of government responsibilities.” (Axios)

2/ The Biden administration plans to purchase an additional 200 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, with the goal of having enough supply to vaccinate nearly the entire U.S. population by the end of the summer. The administration says it’ll buy an additional 100 million doses each from Moderna and Pfizer. The purchases would be in addition to the 400 million combined doses the companies had already committed to providing to the U.S. and would increase available supply by 50%, bringing the total to 600 doses by this summer. Weekly allocations of coronavirus vaccines will also increase by roughly 16% next week – about 1.5 million additional doses. The weekly allocation is expected to go from about 8.6 million doses to about 10 million doses. (NPR / NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Mitch McConnell dropped his demand that Democrats promise to preserve the filibuster, easing a stalemate that prevented new senators from being seated and party leaders from negotiating a power-sharing agreement. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer refused to meet McConnell’s demands. McConnell, however, said he received “assurances” from two centrist Democrats – Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – that they opposed getting rid of the procedural tool Republicans could use to obstruct Biden’s agenda. (New York Times / NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

4/ The House formally delivered the article of impeachment to the Senate, charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the deadly Capitol riot. House impeachment managers walked the article of impeachment through National Statuary Hall and the Capitol Rotunda to the Senate to present the article to the secretary of the Senate. Chief Justice John Roberts will not preside over the trial, like he did for Trump’s first impeachment trial. Instead, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside. Biden, meanwhile, said Trump’s impeachment trial “has to happen” because there would be “a worse effect if it didn’t happen.” Trump is the first U.S. president to have been impeached twice and will be the first to be tried after leaving office. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN)

5/ Senate Republicans voted en masse in an attempt to dismiss the impeachment charge against Trump as unconstitutional because he is no longer in office. All but five Republican senators endorsed the effort, signaling that the Senate does not have the votes to convict and that the proceedings will likely end with Trump’s acquittal. “Impeachment is for removal from office, and the accused here has already left office,” Rand Paul argued on the Senate floor earlier, adding that the trial would “drag our great country down into the gutter of rancor and vitriol, the likes of which has never been seen in our nation’s history.” To convict Trump, it would require 67 members of the 100-member Senate. Trump’s trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 9. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News)

6/ The Pentagon restricted the commander of the D.C. National Guard’s authority ahead of the riot at the U.S. Capitol, requiring higher-level sign-off to deploy the guard. Maj. Gen. William Walker told House Appropriations Committee members that his authority to quickly deploy the guard was removed ahead of the riot and he needed approval from former Army secretary Ryan McCarthy and acting defense secretary Christopher Miller before dispatching troops. The acting chief of the Capitol Police, meanwhile, apologized to Congress for the security failures on Jan. 6, acknowledging that the department knew there was a “strong potential for violence” but “failed to meet its own high standards” to prevent what she described as a “terrorist attack.” Capitol Police officers are discussing holding a no-confidence vote targeting department leaders. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN)

poll/ 56% of Americans approve of the House impeaching Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” while 42% disapprove. 52% want the Senate to convict Trump, while 44% do not. (Monmouth University)

poll/ 50% of Americans say they have a great or fair amount of trust in the federal government to provide accurate information about the coronavirus – up from 40% two weeks ago. (Axios)

✏️ Notables.

  1. Biden signed four executive orders aimed at advancing racial equity for Americans. The measures direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development “to take steps necessary to redress racially discriminatory federal housing policies,” direct the Department of Justice to end its use of private prisons, reaffirm the federal government’s “commitment to tribal sovereignty and consultation,” and combat xenophobia against Asian American and Pacific Islanders. (NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Axios / Wall Street Journal)

  2. The Senate voted 84-15 to confirm Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary – the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary. (Axios / Politico)

  3. The Senate confirmed Antony Blinken as secretary of state. Blinken promised a harder line against Russia and a review or Trump’s policy toward North Korea, which he described as “a problem that has not gotten better; in fact, it’s gotten worse.” (New York Times / Politico / NPR / CNBC)

  4. Biden will suspend new oil and gas leasing on federal land. (Wall Street Journal)

  5. The Justice Department rescinded a Trump-era memo that established a “zero tolerance” policy for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued the new memo to federal prosecutors across the nation, saying the department would return to its “longstanding principle of making individualized assessments in criminal cases.” (Associated Press)

  6. A federal judge in Texas blocked Biden’s 100-day deportation “pause.” Biden’s executive action ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to halt most deportations for 100 days, allowing ICE to overhaul its enforcement priorities. (Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 6: "Attempted sedition."

1/ Biden reversed Trump’s ban on transgender troops serving in the military, restoring protections first put in place by Obama. In 2017, Trump tweeted that the U.S. would no longer “accept or allow” transgender people in the military, saying the military “must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory” and it could not afford to accommodate them. As Biden signed the executive order, he said: “What I’m doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform.” The order provides protection for all transgender service members, stops all involuntary separations or discharges based on gender identity, and directs the secretary of Defense and the secretary of Homeland Security to implement the order and brief Biden within 60 days on their progress. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NPR / Associated Press / NBC News / Axios)

2/ Biden signed an executive order requiring the federal government to “Buy American” for products and services where possible. The new policies will tighten existing government procurement rules, reduce opportunities for waivers, and make it harder for federal agencies to purchase imported products. The order also ensures that small and midsize businesses will have better access to bid for government contracts. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

3/ Trump considered a plan in early January to replace the acting attorney general with a different Justice Department lawyer who would pursue his baseless claims of voter fraud. The plan would have forced Jeffrey Rosen out as the acting attorney general and replaced him with Jeffrey Clark, who had been working with Trump to devise ways to force Georgia lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results. Trump also pushed for the Justice Department to file its own lawsuit against four states, asking the Supreme Court to invalidate Biden’s victory. The efforts failed after Trump’s own appointees at the Justice Department refused to file what they viewed as a legally baseless lawsuit. Later, Trump forced Rosen and Clark to make their case to him in a White House meeting that two officials compared with an episode of “The Apprentice.” Trump ultimately backed off that plan after senior Justice Department leadership threatened to resign en masse if he removed Rosen. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, demanded that the Justice Department’s inspector general launch a probe “into this attempted sedition,” saying it is “unconscionable a Trump Justice Department leader would conspire to subvert the people’s will.” (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  • 👑 Portrait of a president: Trump’s chaotic last week. “Trump, in those final weeks in office, hadn’t simply dented the guardrails of governance. He’d demolished them.” (Vanity Fair)

  • The Justice Department and FBI are debating whether to not charge some of the individuals who stormed the U.S. Capitol. Some federal officials have argued that those who only unlawfully entered the Capitol should not be charged, while others have pushed back against the suggestion, saying it’s important to send a forceful message that the kind of political violence needs to be punished to discourage similar conduct in the future. Prosecutors, however, have signaled they’re considering charges of seditious conspiracy against anyone who planned and carried out violence aimed at the government. (Washington Post)

  • Ohio Republican Rob Portman will not seek a third Senate term in 2022. Portman previously said Trump “bears some responsibility” for the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. (Politico / Axios / CNN)

4/ The Justice Department’s inspector general will investigate whether any department official “engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome” of the 2020 election. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced the investigation following reports that Trump considered replacing his acting attorney general with an official more amenable to his unfounded claims of voter fraud. (Associated Press / NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNBC / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Axios)

5/ Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani. Dominion is seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages, accusing Giuliani of carrying out “a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion” made up of “demonstrably false” allegations intended to promote the “false preconceived narrative” that the election was stolen from Trump and enrich himself through legal fees and his podcast. The lawsuit comes after Dominion sued lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation earlier this month. In that lawsuit, Dominion also said it was seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • Rudy Giuliani acknowledged that an associate had sent an email to Trump campaign officials asking that Giuliani be paid $20,000 a day for his work. When asked about the fee request in November, Giuliani called it a “lie.” (New York Times)

6/ The Supreme Court dismissed two cases over whether Trump illegally profited off his presidency. Both lawsuits involved the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, which forbids a president from receiving “any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince, or foreign state” or any state in the U.S. While lower court rulings had allowed the lawsuits to go forward, the Supreme Court also ordered that those rulings be thrown out because Trump is no longer in office. (NBC News / Associated Press / CNN / CNBC)

  • The Biden administration hasn’t decided whether to release Trump’s federal tax records to investigators. Since last March, a lawsuit filed by the House Ways and Means Committee to enforce a statutory request and a subpoena for six years of Trump’s federal tax records has been frozen. (Washington Post)

7/ CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned that the federal government doesn’t know how much coronavirus vaccine the nation has. Walensky said the lack of knowledge of vaccine supply is indicative of “the challenges we’ve been left with.” (CNBC)

8/ Biden reinstated Covid-19 travel restrictions on non-US citizens who have been to Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe in an effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus variant. The restrictions will also extend to travelers who have recently been to South Africa. Trump rescinded the travel restrictions two days before his term ended. (Reuters / CNN / Associated Press / Bloomberg / NPR / NBC News / Washington Post)

9/ Texas sued the Biden administration over its decision to pause most deportations for 100 days. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton cited a last-minute agreement between the state and the Trump administration that required Homeland Security to consult with the state and provide six months’ notice before making changes. (Axios / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

10/ Biden’s Treasury Department is “exploring ways to speed up” the process of adding Harriet Tubman to the front of the $20 bill. The Trump administration delayed the Obama-era initiative, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying in 2019 that adding new security features was more important than the new imagery. (New York Times / CNN)

poll/ 56% of Americans approve of the House impeaching Trump for his role in inciting the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. 52% support a Trump conviction by the Senate. (Politico)

Day 3: "Transparent, open and honest."

1/ Nancy Pelosi will transmit the article of impeachment charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” to the Senate on Monday, triggering the start of Trump’s second impeachment trial. “The Senate will conduct a trial on the impeachment of Donald Trump,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “It will be a fair trial. But make no mistake, there will be a trial.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, suggested that Trump’s trial should be delayed to mid-February to give him time to “mount a defense,” adding that “this impeachment began with an unprecedentedly fast and minimal process over in the House.” Under Senate rules, the impeachment trial must begin within one day after the House transmits the article if the chamber is in session. (NPR / Politico / CNN / NBC News / New York Times / CNBC / Washington Post / Axios)

  • Dozens of influential Republicans – including former top Trump administration officials – have reportedly lobbied GOP Senators to convict Trump. The effort would require at least 17 GOP votes to join all 50 Democrats in order to convict Trump. Some GOP members, however, are reportedly backing a long-shot bid to dismiss Trump’s trial, claiming it’s unconstitutional to put an ex-president on trial. (CNN / Politico / The Hill)
  • Trump hired South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers to defend him at his second impeachment trial after struggling to find someone to lead his defense. As attorneys who previously represented Trump declined to sign on for a second trial. (Politico / CNBC)
  • Trump’s campaign paid more than $2.7 million to the organizers of the Jan. 6 rally that led to violent rioters storming the U.S. Capitol. (Bloomberg)

2/ Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the new coronavirus variant first found in England “may be associated with a higher degree of mortality.” Some studies have suggested that the variant, known as B117, is 50 to 70% more transmissible. The CDC has also warned that the new variant might become the dominant source of infection in the U.S. by March. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~97,902,000; deaths: ~2,100,000
  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~24,738,000; deaths: ~413,000
  • Source: Johns Hopkins University
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged that the Trump administration’s lack of truthfulness and resistance to following the science on coronavirus “very likely” cost American lives. Fauci, was sidelined by the Trump task force in favor of advisers, like Scott Atlas, who pushed coronavirus misinformation, said the Biden administration’s approach to the pandemic will be “completely transparent, open and honest” with the American people. (CNN / Axios)

3/ Biden is expected to sign an executive order to significantly increase federal food assistance for millions of families struggling amid the pandemic. The orders will increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for about 12 million families and provide money for families to replace the free or reduced-price lunches meals students would have normally received at school before the pandemic forced students out of classrooms. National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said the orders are “not a substitute” for the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill that Biden hopes Congress will pass, but instead a “critical lifeline” for millions of Americans who need assistance now. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC)

4/ The Senate confirmed Lloyd Austin to be the new Defense secretary, making the retired four-star Army general the first Black person to run the Pentagon. The 93-2 vote came a day after Congress granted General Austin a waiver to hold the post because he hadn’t been out of uniform for the legally mandated seven-year period. (New York Times / NPR / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Biden revoked Trump’s order banning federal agencies, contractors, and recipients of federal funding from conducting diversity training. Trump had deemed the workplace trainings “un-American” and harmful to white workers. (ABC News)

Day 2: "The gravest damage."

1/ Biden marked the start of his presidency by signing or finalizing 17 executive orders, memorandums, and proclamations to roll back some of Trump’s policies. Hours after his inauguration, Biden began signing orders on a range of issues, which included defunding the construction of Trump’s border wall, reversing Trump’s travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries, ending the Trump administration’s efforts to exclude undocumented immigrants from the Census, recommitting to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, revoking the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and rejoining the Paris climate agreement. “There’s no time to start like today,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office as he began signing. “I’m going to start by keeping the promises I made to the American people.” Biden also signed an order appointing Jeffrey Zients as his Covid-19 response coordinator who will report to the president, in an effort to “aggressively” gear up the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. One of Biden’s top advisers described the flurry of executive authority as an effort to “reverse the gravest damages” done to the country by Trump. (New York Times / NPR / CBS News / CNN / Washington Post / The Guardian / Politico / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • Biden signed an executive order requiring all political appointees to sign an ethics pledge, including a ban on lobbying for two years after they leave the administration. (The Hill)

  • Biden will reverse a Trump administration policy prohibiting funding for nongovernmental groups that provide or refer patients for abortions. (NPR)

  • Biden revoked a Trump administration report that aimed to promote “patriotic education” in schools. Biden disbanded Trump’s presidential 1776 Commission and withdrew the report that it released Monday. (Associated Press)

2/ Biden, pledging a “full-scale wartime effort” to combat the coronavirus, signed at least 10 executive orders and directives on his second day in office aimed at addressing the pandemic. Biden’s national strategy will address testing, treating, and vaccinating people for Covid-19 by ordering federal agencies to invoke the Defense Production Act to boost the manufacture of necessary supplies of masks, gowns, gloves, rapid test kits, testing agents and material for vaccines. Biden will also require travelers to wear masks on planes, trains, buses, and at airports, as well as require a negative Covid-19 test before flying to the U.S. Other orders and directives will create a public dashboard with real-time national and state-level data on cases, testing, vaccinations, and hospitalizations, deploy FEMA to set up 100 community vaccination sites in the next 30 days, and create a Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force to “address the disproportionate and severe impact of Covid-19 on communities of color and other underserved populations.” (New York Times / NPR / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / CNBC / Associated Press / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

3/ Biden reversed Trump’s move to leave the World Health Organization – exactly one year after the United States recorded its first Covid-19 case. “I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told U.N.’s health agency. Dr. Fauci said the U.S. would re-engage at all levels and would join Covax, a program to distribute vaccines to poorer nations. The agency’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, thanks Biden and Dr. Fauci for recommitting to the Covid-19 fight, saying: “This is a good day for the WHO and a good day for global health.” (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ The Biden administration identified 12 “immediate supply shortfalls” in the Trump administration’s pandemic response plans, including a nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan. Biden called the vaccine rollout “a dismal failure thus far,” adding “we didn’t get into this mess overnight,” and that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better.” The shortfalls identified by the Biden team include a lack of N95 surgical masks and isolation gowns, swabs, reagents and pipettes used in testing. “What we’re inheriting from the Trump administration is so much worse than we could have imagined,” Jeff Zients, the Biden administration’s Covid-19 czar, said in a call. “We don’t have the visibility that we would hope to have into supply and allocations.” Meanwhile, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the CDC, warned that the Covid-19 vaccine would not be widely available by late February, as the Trump administration previously promised. The CDC also expects the U.S. to see another 100,000 or more Covid-19 deaths by next month, bringing the death toll to 508,000 by February 13. Dr. Anthony Fauci added that his “best-case scenario” is getting 85% of Americans vaccinated by the end of summer. (New York Times / CNN / Daily Beast / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)

5/ Around 900,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. While down slightly from last week, jobless claims remain above the pre-pandemic peak of 695,000. (Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

6/ Senate Republicans refused to agree to a power-sharing agreement unless Democrats promised to preserve the filibuster. Mitch McConnell has pressed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to keep the 60-vote threshold on most legislation as part of their agreement. Democrats, however, have rejected the proposal, saying it would be a mistake to take the filibuster off the table now that they’re in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House for the first time in more than a decade. The stalemate is slowing down confirmation of Biden’s nominees, Trump’s impeachment trial, and more. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

✏️ Notables.

  1. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “ready” to transmit the House’s impeachment charge against Trump to the Senate “soon,” declining to provide an exact date for doing so. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, proposed delaying the impeachment trial until February to give Trump’s lawyers more time to prepare. The question of who will represent Trump also remains unanswered. (New York Times / ABC News / Washington Post / CNN)

  2. The Biden administration is seeking a five-year extension to its nuclear arms treaty with Russia, which expires Feb. 5. Letting the treaty expire would allow both countries to deploy an unlimited number of nuclear-armed submarines, bombers, and missiles. (Washington Post)

  3. The Senate confirmed Avril Haines as the director of national intelligence. Haines is the first woman to become director of national intelligence, where she’ll oversees 18 intelligence agencies and units, including the CIA and the National Security Agency. (Wall Street Journal / Politico / Axios)

  4. Biden will keep FBI Director Christopher Wray in his role. Wray was appointed in 2017 after Trump fired James Comey. (CNN / Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  5. Trump’s Pentagon blocked members of Biden’s incoming administration from accessing information about current operations, including the troop drawdowns, upcoming operations in Africa, and the Covid-19 vaccine distribution program. (Politico)

  6. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a waiver for Lloyd Austin’s nomination for defense secretary. The full Senate is expected to confirm Austin, who would be the first Black defense secretary. Austin required a waiver because the law requires that he be out of uniform for seven years before becoming Pentagon chief. Austin retired in 2016. (Politico)

  7. Trump appointee Michael Pack resigned as the CEO of the federal agency over the Voice of America. On Pack’s first day as head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, he sidelined or fired senior leaders at the agency and the chiefs of all the government-sponsored foreign broadcast networks. Biden named senior VOA news executive Kelu Chao as acting CEO. (NPR)

  8. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger resigned at Biden’s request. (The Hill)

  9. The Biden administration fired the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, a Trump appointee who was seen as a foe by worker advocates and labor unions, after Peter Robb refused a request from the new administration to resign. (Bloomberg Law / Washington Post / New York Times)

  10. China imposed sanctions on 28 former Trump administration officials, including outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The statement from China’s foreign ministry was released just minutes after Biden took office, which the new administration called “unproductive and cynical.” (NPR / NBC News)

  11. Seven Senate Democrats filed an ethics complaint against Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz for their objections to the 2020 presidential election results. Democrats are requesting an investigation for their “objections to the electors after the violent attack” on Jan. 6. that “lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause and made future violence more likely.” (Politico)

Day 1: "Democracy has prevailed."

1/ Biden was sworn as the 46th president of the United States, moments after Kamala Harris took her oath of office, making her the first woman and the first woman of color to serve as vice president. “This is America’s day,” Biden said as he began his Inaugural Address. “This is democracy’s day.” Biden – the oldest man to be sworn in as president at 78 – described today as “our historic moment of crisis and challenge,” as he called on the nation to end its “uncivil war” and embrace “Unity [as] the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail.” Four years after Trump attacked the Washington establishment throughout his Inaugural Address, declaring that the “American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” Biden offered a direct rebuttal: “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile — and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.” (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico)

  • Biden’s Inaugural Address, Annotated. (NPR)

  • Biden inauguration live blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / The Guardian / Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / NBC News / CNN

  • Trump left a note for Biden in the Oval Office’s Resolute Desk. A Trump White House spokesperson did not reveal the contents of what Trump left for Biden to read. (Politico / USA Today)

  • Melania Trump outsourced her “thank you” notes to the White House residence staff who cared for her and her family for the last four years. A low-level East Wing staffer wrote them “in her voice,” and she signed her name. (CNN)

  • 💡 Biden inherits a country that is older, on shakier economic footing, and is more politically polarized. “The coronavirus pandemic halted the 11-year economic expansion and drove up unemployment just as the typical American household was starting to enjoy sustained income growth. Americans were living longer until the pandemic exacted a swift, deadly toll.” (Wall Street Journal)

  • 💡 Trump will step into a financial minefield that appears to be unlike anything he has faced. “Baseless election fraud claims and the Capitol riot have compounded already-looming threats to his bottom line. And the cash lifelines he once relied on are gone.” (New York Times)

2/ Trump, who refused to concede, never congratulated Biden and skipped his successor’s swearing-in, held a small, socially distanced military-style send-off for himself before leaving for his Florida resort. “I hope they don’t raise your taxes,” Trump told the crowd of several hundred people at Joint Base Andrews. “But if they do, I told you so.” While Trump did not mention Biden by name, he did “wish the new administration great luck and great success.” Trump concluded his remarks, vowing to “be back in some form” and, as the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” began playing, Trump told his supporters: “Have a good life.” (Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

  • Trump discussed forming a new political party and wants to call it the “Patriot Party.” (Wall Street Journal)

  • The Proud Boys mock Trump, call him “extraordinarily weak” and a “total failure.” (New York Times)

  • Believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory struggled to square their falsehoods with the inauguration. As it became clear that their long-awaited mass arrests of Biden and other “deep-state” Democrats, followed by the restoration of the Trump presidency, did not happen, QAnon believers began to wonder if they had been tricked. (Daily Beast / New York Times)

3/ Trump granted clemency to 143 people in his final hours as president, wiping away the convictions and prison sentences for a host of corrupt politicians and business executives. In total, Trump issued a batch of 73 pardons and 70 commutations, including a pardon for Stephen Bannon, his former White House chief strategist who was charged with defrauding donors to a private fundraising effort for construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and Elliott Broidy, who pleaded guilty in October to acting as an unregistered foreign agent and lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of foreign interests. Trump, however, did not preemptively pardon himself or his family. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • Full list of Trump’s pardons and commuted sentences. (NBC News)

4/ Trump rescinded his administration’s ethics pledge intended to “drain the swamp.” In 2017, Trump signed an executive order that barred political appointees from lobbying the government or working for foreign countries related to their agency for five years. At the time Trump joked that his political appointees would “not be subject to those commitments after noon January 20, 2021.” However, in a late-night executive order issued in the final hours of his presidency, Trump rescinded the executive order. The Trump White House did not offer any justification for the reversal. (Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg)

  • Trump extended post-presidency Secret Service protection to 14 members of his family who were not entitled to receive it, at no cost to them. (Washington Post)

  • Trump declassified some documents related to the FBI’s Russia investigation. No documents, however, were immediately released. (New York Times)

5/ Trump administration officials said Homeland Security entered into last-minute agreements to “sabotage” the Biden administration’s efforts to unwind its immigration policies. Homeland Security signed legal agreements with state and local authorities in recent weeks that would require the agency to delay making changes for 180 days. (NBC News)

6/ Biden plans to make immediate and extensive use of executive orders to undo much of the last four years under Trump. On Day One, Biden is expected to sign 17 executive actions, memorandums, and proclamations from the Oval Office to address the pandemic, economic relief, immigration, climate change, and racial equity. Biden will also sign executive orders to extend bans on pandemic-related home evictions and foreclosures, revoke the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and reverse Trump’s travel ban on several largely Muslim and African countries. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

Day 1461: How it ended.

1/ In a farewell video, Trump claimed that he “took on the tough battles” during his four years in office and vowed that “the movement we started is only just beginning.” Trump did not concede, take responsibility for encouraging his supporters to attack the Capitol, or mention Biden by name in his farewell address.“We did what we came here to do,” Trump said, “and so much more.” Pence, meanwhile, confirmed he will not attend Trump’s farewell event tomorrow, but will instead attend the inauguration of Biden and Kamala Harris. Trump leaves office as the only twice-impeached U.S. president. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / Associated Press)

2/ Mitch McConnell said the mob that stormed the Capitol was “fed lies” and “provoked by the president” into violence, referring to Trump’s attempts to overturn the election based on his baseless claims of voter fraud. McConnell’s remarks came on his last full day as majority leader, shortly before he met with Chuck Schumer to work out rules for Trump’s Senate impeachment trial for “willful incitement of insurrection.” Former Attorney General William Barr, meanwhile, said that questioning the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election “precipitated the riot,” but he didn’t blame Trump for inciting the mob. (New York Times / Politico / NPR / Bloomberg / CNBC / The Guardian / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ Federal prosecutors filed conspiracy charges against three members of the Oath Keepers, an extremist militant group, for their role in the attack on the Capitol. The three were allegedly part of a group who had planned to breached the Capitol on opposite sides to hunt for lawmakers in an “organized and practiced fashion” so they could make “citizen’s arrests.” In charging papers, the FBI said during the riot, one of the members received a Facebook message that said: “All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas.” (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN)

  • The National Guard removed 12 people from inauguration duty after background checks found links to right-wing extremist movements or other security concerns.The service members include at least two with possible sympathies for anti-government groups, while another 10 were removed for reasons that defense officials declined to detail. (Bloomberg / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • QAnon extremists discussed posing as National Guard members in Washington in an effort to disrupt the inauguration. Others have reviewed maps of vulnerable spots in Washington and discussing how to interfere in security during the inauguration. (Washington Post)

4/ More than 400,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States – reaching the milestone on the eve of the anniversary of the first confirmed case and the final full day of Trump’s presidency. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~96,059,000; deaths: ~2,054,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~24,217,000; deaths: ~402,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

5/ Biden rejected Trump’s effort to lift travel restrictions on much of Europe, the United Kingdom, and Brazil aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus to the U.S. In an executive order issued Monday evening, but effective on Jan. 26, Trump said that the travel restrictions would no longer be needed because the CDC will require all passengers from abroad to present proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight. Biden’s incoming White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, tweeted “On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of Covid-19.” (Wall Street Journal / CNN / The Guardian / New York Times)

poll/ 73% of voters believe that the country is on the wrong track, compared with 21 percent who say it’s headed in the right direction. 73% also believe the country will remain divided over the next four years, compared to 24% who think it will be able to unite. (NBC News)

poll/ 51% of Americans say the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is not at all under control. 3% say it is completely under control, while 44% say it is mostly or somewhat under control. (Washington Post)

poll/ 55% of Americans say police response to the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol would have been harsher if the rioters had been mostly Black rather than mostly white. 28% say the response would have been the same, while 9% say the response would have been less harsh to a largely Black mob. (USA Today)

poll/ About 20% of Republicans said they approve of convicting Trump in his Senate impeachment trial. Overall, about 55% said they approve of the Senate convicting Trump and about 37% said they disapprove. (Politico)

poll/ Trump’s approval rating dropped to 34% – down 12 percentage points since the Nov. 3 election. Obama left office with a 59% approval rating. (Bloomberg)

poll/ 60% of voters think Trump will be remembered as either below average or one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. 75% said the country is headed in the wrong direction – the highest percentage since 1992. (NPR)

✏️ Notables.

  1. The Trump administration issued oil and gas leases for more than 430,000 acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (New York Times)

  2. A federal appeals court vacated a Trump administration rule that eased restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Trump administration’s rule was based on a “mistaken reading of the Clean Air Act.” (ABC News / Wall Street Journal)

  3. Biden will propose an overhaul of immigration laws on his first day in office, including providing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants without legal status and an expansion of refugee admissions. (Washington Post)

  4. The State Department declared that China’s internment, forced labor, and forced sterilization of over 1 million Muslim minorities in Xinjiang constitutes “genocide” and “crimes against humanity.” The determination could lead to further sanctions against China under the Biden administration. Biden previously said the policies by Beijing amounted to “genocide.” (New York Times / Axios)

  5. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that multiculturalism “is not who America is,” claiming “all the -isms” only “points in one direction — authoritarianism.” (New York Times)

  6. Trump’s “1776 Commission” report was supposed to be the definitive “patriotic” view of U.S. history, but aside from being mocked by historians, about 26% of the content was lifted from other sources without citations. The 18-member commission was formed after the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer. Trump insisted that the protests were the result of “left-wing indoctrination in our schools” and required a new “pro-American” curriculum. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 1460: "Indefensible."

1/ Trump is expected to pardon or commute the sentences of more than 100 people on his final full day in the White House. Trump met with Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and other aides Sunday to review a list of pardon requests, including whether to issue preemptive pardons to his adult children, aides, and himself. Trump allies, meanwhile, have reportedly sold their access to the White House to lobby Trump and White House aides for pardons. While there is nothing illegal about Trump associates being paid to lobby for clemency, any explicit offers of payment to Trump in return could be be a possible violations of bribery laws. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

2/ The FBI is vetting all 25,000 National Guard troops in Washington tasked with securing the inauguration. U.S. defense officials said they were concerned about an inside threat from service members. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said that the vetting process hasn’t flagged any issues with the troops. (Associated Press / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • Capitol Police warned three days before the Capitol riot that “Congress itself” could be targeted by Trump supporters on Jan. 6. “Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” according to the 12-page internal intelligence report. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.” (Washington Post)

  • The FBI is investigating whether foreign governments or groups helped fund the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including payments of $500,000 in bitcoin to key figures in the alt-right. (NBC News)

3/ The director of the Census Bureau resigned after whistleblower complaints warned that political appointees were pressuring staff to release “statistically indefensible” data on the number of unauthorized immigrants in the country by Jan. 15, which could be “misinterpreted, misused, or otherwise tarnish the Bureau’s reputation.” Steven Dillingham’s term was scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2021. Trump appointed Dillingham to lead the agency in 2019 as the Trump administration pushed to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census, which was ultimately blocked by the Supreme Court. (Talking Points Memo / NPR / Politico / Washington Post)

4/ The National Security Agency moved to install a former GOP political operative and White House official as its general counsel. Under pressure from the White House, Defense Secretary Christopher Miller ordered NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone to place Michael Ellis the role. Nakasone was reportedly not in favor of Ellis’s selection and tried to delay his installation. Ellis tried to prevent the release of a portion of John Bolton’s, the former national security adviser, manuscript that dealt with Ukraine and would presumably be damaging to Trump. The Pentagon plans to swear Ellis in on Tuesday. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

5/ At least five anti-vaccine organization received more than $850,000 in loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The groups all oppose or question the safety of vaccination, and are known to spread misleading information about the coronavirus, raising questions about why the Trump administration approved loans to groups that actively opposed its own public health agenda. (Washington Post)

6/ By the time you read this, the number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. will have surpassed 400,000 and more than 2 million people worldwide will have been killed by the virus. The U.S. confirmed its first case of the virus in Seattle on Jan. 21, 2020. As the total number of U.S. coronavirus cases surpassed 24 million, California health officials reported a new coronavirus variant linked to about 25% of new cases in the state. The new variant, known as L452R, is distinct from the highly contagious British mutation, known as B117, which has also been found in California. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Los Angeles Times)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~95,441,000; deaths: ~2,038,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~24,046,000; deaths: ~399,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • One Year, 400,000 Coronavirus Deaths: How the U.S. Guaranteed Its Own Failure. After the White House declined to pursue a unified national strategy, governors faced off against lobbyists, health experts and a restless public consumed by misinformation. (New York Times)

poll/ 56% of Americans believe there will be more violence at the inauguration, and 70% say America’s democracy is weaker – not stronger – than it was four years ago. (USA Today)

poll/ 43% of voters gave Trump a positive job approval rating – down from 45% before the November election and 44% shortly after he took office in 2017. (NBC News)

poll/ 67% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the presidential transition. In 2017, 40% of Americans approved of Trump’s handling of the transition. (Washington Post)

Day 1457: "Justice is coming."

1/ Federal prosecutors said there was “strong evidence” the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol planned to “capture and assassinate elected officials.” Hours later, however, the head of the investigation cautioned that the probe is still in its early stages and there was “no direct evidence of kill and capture teams.” The accusation came in an 18-page motion filed Thursday as part of the federal criminal case against Jacob Anthony Chansley, a well-known conspiracy theorist who was photographed shirtless, but wearing a fury hat with horns during the insurrection. “Strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States Government,” prosecutors wrote in their memo urging the judge to keep Chansley behind bars. Chansley also wrote a note for Pence in the Senate chamber, which read: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.” (Associated Press / USA Today / NBC News / New York Times / Reuters)

2/ Secret Service officers evacuated Pence from the Senate chamber moments before the violent mob that stormed the Capitol reached the second-floor landing in the Senate. If the mob had arrived seconds earlier, Pence would have been in eyesight of the mob as he was being rushed across a reception hall into the a hideaway less than 100 feet from that landing. A Capitol Police officer, however, lured the rioters away from the Senate. Pence was later evacuated to a more secure location in the Capitol complex while rioters were still inside the Capitol. (Washington Post)

  • The inspectors general for the departments of Justice, Defense, Interior, and Homeland Security opened a review of its Capitol security and intelligence preparedness. “The inspectors general for all of those agencies will review what people knew and how they prepared for that day, along with their actions during the riot.” (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • Investigators have opened 275 criminal cases and charged 98 people in connection to the riot at the Capitol. The FBI has also conducted dozens of interviews into the killing of the Capitol Police officer, who died while confronting the pro-Trump mob. (CNN / New York Times)

  • Federal authorities are investigating several Bitcoin transactions made to right-wing figures ahead of the assault on the Capitol. On Dec. 8, someone made a simultaneous transfer of about $500,000 in Bitcoin to 22 different virtual wallets belonging to prominent right-wing organizations and personalities. (Yahoo News / New York Times)

  • 👑 Portrait of a president: Trump explodes at Nixon comparisons as he prepares to leave office. “Inside the building, Trump has been weathering a second impeachment and growing isolation from his onetime allies in sullen desolation. He has grown more and more worried about what legal or financial calamities may await him when he is no longer president, people who have spoken to him said, fueled by warnings from lawyers and advisers. He is weighing pardons, including for himself and his family, as he attempts to muster a legal team for another impeachment trial. And he is resentful of Republicans who he feels abandoned him in his hour of need, including the GOP leaders of the House and Senate.” (CNN)

3/ More than two million people have died from the coronavirus worldwide. The global death toll passed one million deaths in late September – more than nine months after the pandemic began. The coronavirus death toll in the U.S., meanwhile, is quickly approaching 400,000 and is “expected” to hit half a million deaths next month. (Washington Post / New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~93,627,000; deaths: ~2,005,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~23,476,000; deaths: ~392,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

4/ Coronavirus vaccine reserves were already exhausted when the Trump administration promised to release additional doses. No such reserve existed because the Trump administration had already distributed what was available at the end of December, taking the doses directly off the manufacturing line. Nevertheless, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced on Tuesday that the administration would be “releasing the entire supply for order by states, rather than holding second doses in reserve.” (Washington Post / CNN)

  • Biden plans to deploy FEMA and the National Guard to build coronavirus vaccine clinics in order to “quickly jumpstart” efforts to make the vaccines available at local pharmacies. (CNBC)

5/ Operation Warp Speed waited more than two months to approve a plan to distribute the Covid-19 vaccines, leaving states with little time to prepare for the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history. The CDC wanted to start planning in June, but officials at Operation Warp Speed held the release of the CDC’s distribution plan, saying it needed to go through the interagency-clearance process. The Biden administration, meanwhile, said it plans to retire the “Operation Warp Speed” name, citing “failures” by the Trump administration. (Wall Street Journal / NPR)

6/ The CDC warned that the U.K. variant of the coronavirus could become the predominant strain in the United States by March. While only 76 cases of the variant have been identified in the U.S., researchers estimate that is roughly 50% more transmissible than the more common strain. The variant, however, is not known to be more deadly or to cause more severe disease. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

7/ Trump will leave Washington hours before Biden’s inauguration and fly to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to begin his post-presidential life. The White House is considering holding an elaborate send-off event for Trump that would have the feel of a state visit, with a red carpet, color guard, military band, and a 21-gun salute. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / NBC News)

poll/ 89% of Americans oppose the storming of the Capitol by Trump’s supporters. 57% say Trump deserves significant responsibility for the attack on the Capitol. (Washington Post)

poll/ 58% of Americans blame Trump for the violent insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters. (NPR)

poll/ 29% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president – his lowest job approval rating ever. 68% of voters do not want Trump to remain a major political figure in the future. (Pew Research Center)

Day 1456: "Self-pity mode."

1/ Biden released a $1.9 trillion economic and health care rescue package to deliver direct aid to families, businesses, and communities, and provide money for testing and vaccine distribution. The emergency relief plan includes $400 billion for fighting the coronavirus, more than $1 trillion in direct relief to families, including direct payments of $1,400 to most Americans, and $440 billion for aid to communities and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and help advance his plans to reopen most schools by the spring. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / CNBC / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~92,851,000; deaths: ~1,989,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~23,254,000; deaths: ~388,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

2/ Biden urged the Senate to balance the impeachment trial of Trump with the “other urgent business of this nation.” The Senate won’t return until Jan. 19 – the day before Biden’s inauguration – which means Trump’s trial will create a logistical challenge, and risks delaying confirmation of Biden’s cabinet nominees and legislative initiatives. All 100 senators must consent to allow the chamber to confirm Biden’s Cabinet and pass his legislative agenda on one track, and begin Trump’s trial for “incitement of insurrection” on another. Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, hasn’t detailed her schedule for transmitting the single article of impeachment to the Senate. (CNN / Bloomberg / Politico / NPR / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / CBS News / Washington Post)

3/ Trump is reportedly in “self-pity mode” after becoming the only U.S. president to be impeached twice. According to White House advisers and people close to him, Trump and has become “increasingly isolated, sullen, and vengeful” after being left to fend for himself at the White House as impeachment quickly gained steam. Trump has also instructed aides not to pay Rudy Giuliani’s legal fees, demanding that he personally approve any reimbursements for the expenses Giuliani incurred while traveling on his behalf to challenge election results. Trump has apparently expressed concern with some of Giuliani’s decisions. The lawyers who defended Trump in his previous impeachment trial, including Jay Sekulow and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, have declined to defend him during the second impeachment trial. (Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg)

4/ Trump issued an appeal for nonviolence after the House voted to impeach him for “incitement of insurrection,” saying he “unequivocally” condemned the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump released the five-minute video following heavy pressure from his advisers. He offered no humility, regret, or self-reflection, failed to mention the election, and did not concede that Biden won a free and fair election. The video was released through the White House Twitter account, because his personal account was permanently suspended on fears it could incite further violence. Trump alluded to the ban, saying there had been an “unprecedented assault on free speech.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNBC)

5/ Democratic lawmakers accused Republican colleagues of leading groups on “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol the day before Trump supporters stormed the building. Rep. Mikie Sherrill said she saw “members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 for reconnaissance for the next day.” At least one protest organizer said he coordinated with three House Republicans and Capitol Police officers said they wouldn’t be surprised if some lawmakers helped organize the attack. Meanwhile, at least 31 members of Congress demanded that the acting House Sergeant of Arms, acting Senate Sergeant of Arms, and Acting Chief of the Capitol Police investigate what they described as an “extremely high number of outside groups” let into the building on Jan. 5 at a time when most tours were restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic. The letter says the tours were “unusual” and “concerning” and were reported to the Sergeant at Arms on Jan. 5, adding that the groups “could only have gained access to the Capitol Complex from a Member of Congress or a member of their staff.” Dozens of people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list were in Washington D.C. on the day of the Capitol insurrection – the majority suspected white supremacists whose past conduct was so alarming that their names had been previously added to the national Terrorist Screening Database. (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Politico /BuzzFeed News / NBC News / CNN)

  • Several Republican members of Congress complained about or circumvented metal detectors put in place after the deadly riot at the Capitol. The new safety measures to enter the House floor included metal detectors and physical pat-downs in some instances. (NPR / NBC News)

✏️ Notables.

  1. The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy was pushed by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, despite warnings that the government wasn’t prepared to deal with the consequences, according to a report from the Justice Department’s inspector general. The report concludes that top Justice Department officials were the “driving force” behind the 2018 decision to separate families and refer parents for prosecution. (NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / BuzzFeed News)

  2. The D.C. Attorney General’s office notified Trump Jr. that it wants to interview him as part of a lawsuit alleging that Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee improperly funneled money to his business. In January 2020, the D.C. Attorney General’s office sued the Trump Organization and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, alleging that they wasted more than $1 million raised by the nonprofit by “grossly overpaying” to use the Trump Hotel in Washington for the 2017 inauguration. (Washington Post / CNN)

  3. U.S. taxpayers spent $3,000 a month – more than $100,000 to date – to rent an apartment so Secret Service agents for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner could use the bathroom while standing guard in front of their Washignton home. Agents were instructed to not use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house. (Washington Post)

  4. Unemployment claims jumped to 965,000 – the highest since August. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

  5. 2020 was the second-hottest year in recorded history and the last decade was hotter on average than any time in at least 2,000 years. The last seven years have been the warmest since measurement began in the 19th century. (NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

Day 1455: "He must go."

1/ The House voted to impeach Trump, making him the only American president to be impeached twice. Ten Republicans, including the House’s No. 3 Republican, Liz Cheney, joined with all Democrats in a 232 to 197 vote to impeach Trump for “willful incitement of insurrection” – the gravest charge ever lodged against a sitting president – for his role in a riot by his supporters that left five dead and the Capitol ransacked. “We know that the President of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country,” Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor ahead of the vote. “He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.” (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Politico / The Guardian / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CBS News / ABC News / NBC News)

  • EARLIER: The House approved a resolution encouraging Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office before his term ends on Jan. 20. Pence, however, told Pelosi that he does not believe invoking the 25th Amendment “is in the best interest of our nation.” (NBC News)

  • Trump issued a statement calling on Americans to “ease tensions and calm tempers.” The statement was released as the House was debating his impeachment. (NPR / New York Times)

  • YouTube suspended Trump’s channel over concern about “ongoing potential for violence.” (New York Times)

  • 👑 Portrait of a President: Pence Reached His Limit With Trump. It Wasn’t Pretty. “You can either go down in history as a patriot,” Trump told him, “or you can go down in history as a pussy.” (New York Times)

  • 👑 Portrait of a President: Trump grows defiant as the White House becomes a ghost town. As he becomes the first president to be impeached twice, Trump lacks a robust response for the first time. (NBC News)

  • Trump Impeachment 2.0 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / The Guardian / NPR / ABC News / NBC News / CNN / CNBC

2/ Mitch McConnell rejected calls to bring the Senate back for an emergency session to begin Trump’s impeachment trial before Jan. 19. McConnell, however, told Republican senators that he has not ruled out voting to convict Trump on the House’s impeachment charge. Trump impeachment trial won’t begin until after Biden becomes president on Jan. 20. If the Senate convicts Trump, it could also vote to ban him from ever seeking office again. (CNN / Axios / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The United States reported more than 4,200 Covid-19 deaths Tuesday – a single-day record. Tuesday’s deaths represents at least 1,597 more people than those killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Coronavirus cases, meanwhile, have continued to tick up over the past two weeks in more than 30 states. Only Tennessee, Idaho, and South Dakota are experiencing slight declines in case rates. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~92,112,000; deaths: ~1,974,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~22,999,000; deaths: ~384,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live blogs:

poll/ 55% of Americans support impeaching Trump while 45% oppose the effort. (CBS News)

poll/ 34% of Americans approve the job Trump is doing as president – his lowest in four years. 63% disapprove. (Politico)

✏️ Notables.

  1. The Census Bureau stopped working on Trump’s directive to produce a count of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. for purposes of redrawing congressional districts in 2021. (NPR / ABC News)

  2. Trump appointees at the EPA overruled the agency’s career scientists on a safety assessment for a toxic chemical that’s contaminated the drinking water for an estimated 860,000 Americans. (Politico)

Day 1454: No regrets.

1/ Trump refused to take responsibility for inciting the deadly riot at the Capitol, offered no regrets, and defended his pre-riot speech as “totally appropriate.” In his first public remarks since the violence last week that left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer, Trump deflected blame and called the effort by House Democrats to impeach him for a second time a “witch hunt” that was “causing tremendous anger.” The attack on the Capitol came after Trump encouraged a crowd of supporters to march to the building and “fight like hell,” saying: “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.” Trump also took aim at social media sites that have banned him, saying they had made a “catastrophic mistake” and acted in a “divisive” manner. Trump then left Washington to travel to Alamo, Tex., to tour a section of his border wall. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Politico / NPR / Bloomberg / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump privately – and falsely – blamed “Antifa people” for storming the Capitol despite overwhelming evidence showing the rioters were Trump supporters. (Axios)

  • The city of New York is “reviewing whether legal grounds exist” to terminate its business relationships with Trump. The city pays the Trump Organization about $17 million a year to run a carousel, two ice rinks, and a golf course in city parks. (Washington Post)

  • The director of Voice of America reassigned a reporter after asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo questions he refused to answer. Patsy Widakuswara asked if Pompeo if he regretted saying in November that the presidential transition would proceed smoothly into a second term for Trump. (Vox / Washington Post)

  • Trump-Biden Transition Live Updates: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / ABC News / NBC News / CNN

2/ Mitch McConnell indicated that he believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is reportedly “pleased” that Democrats are moving to impeach him. McConnell, who blames Trump for Republicans losing the Senate, believes impeaching Trump a second time would make it easier to “purge” him from the party. Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, has asked other Republicans whether he should call on Trump to resign. Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, said she will vote to impeach Trump, saying there has “never been a greater betrayal” by a president to his office and his oath to the Constitution. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

3/ Two days before the riot at the Capitol, the FBI warned that extremists were traveling to Washington to commit violence and “war.” The internal FBI report, produced Jan. 5 by the F.B.I.’s Norfolk office in southern Virginia and sent to the bureau’s Washington Field Office, included examples of people sharing a map of the Capitol’s tunnels and possible meet-up points in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and South Carolina before traveling to Washington. The report also said “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.” (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Several Capitol Police officers have been suspended and more than a dozen others are under investigation for suspected involvement in the deadly riot at the Capitol. (Washington Post)

  • The House and Senate sergeants-at-arms face questions about why they failed to do more to deter Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol last week. Both have since resigned. (New York Times)

4/ Capitol Police briefed House Democrats about three more planned demonstrations in the coming days, including a plot to form a perimeter around the Capitol, the White House, and the Supreme Court to block Democrats from entering the Capitol so that Republicans could take control of the government. Another demonstration is being billed as the “largest armed protest ever to take place on American soil.” The pro-Trump extremists have reportedly published rules of engagement. (CNN / HuffPost)

5/ Trump declared a state of emergency in Washington, D.C., citing the “emergency conditions” surrounding Biden’s inauguration. Trump’s order allows the Department of Homeland Security and the FEMA to assist the city in any emergency response. There will be at least 10,000 National Guard troops in Washington, D.C., by Saturday – that’s more troops than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. (Politico / Business Insider))

  • The Joint Chiefs of Staff condemned the Capitol riot and confirmed that Biden will become the 46th commander in chief of the armed forces on Jan. 20. In a memo to the entire U.S. military, the top generals called the riot as “a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building and our Constitutional process.” The top Pentagon brass said the military remained fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution “against all enemies foreign and domestic.” (Washington Post)

6/ Three Democratic members of Congress have tested positive for Covid-19 after being locked down with colleagues who refused to wear masks during the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Reps. Brad Schneider, Pramila Jayapal, and Bonnie Watson Coleman all tested positive for Covid-19 since Monday. Schneider said “several Republican lawmakers in the room adamantly refused to wear a mask […] even when politely asked by their colleagues.” Jayapal added that “several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one.” (Axios / NBC News / HuffPost)

7/ The Trump administration expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to all Americans over 65 to accelerate distribution. Health Secretary Alex Azar also said future doses will be allocated based on the pace that states administer the vaccine. The government had been holding about half of newly available doses since the rollout began, but will instead release the second doses of the vaccine, which were reserved for booster shots. (CNN / Axios / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

Day 1453: "Significant failures."

1/ House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment against Trump for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the riots at the Capitol that left five people dead last week. The four-page impeachment article charges Trump with “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” Nancy Pelosi said the House will vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday if Pence doesn’t seek to remove him under the 25th Amendment or Trump doesn’t resign first. The impeachment resolution has at least 218 co-sponsors – enough to ensure passage – which would make Trump the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. While it’s unlikely that the Senate will hold a trial before Trump leaves office on Jan. 20, a conviction after his term ends would prevent Trump from federal office again. Earlier, during a pro forma session, Democrats attempted to pass a measure by unanimous consent calling on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, but House Republicans blocked the request. Pence reportedly hasn’t ruled out invoking the 25th Amendment, but wants to preserve the option in case Trump becomes more unstable. (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / CNN / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News / ABC News / The Guardian / CNBC)

  • Live Updates: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / NBC News / CBS News

  • A 75-year-old congresswoman tested positive for the coronavirus after sheltering in a room with lawmakers who refused to wear masks during the takeover of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a cancer survivor, tested positive after maskless Republicans — including Reps. Andy Biggs, Michael Cloud, Markwayne Mullin, and Scott Perry — refused masks offered by Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester while in the room. (Washington Post / Washington Post)

2/ White House counsel Pat Cipollone and former Attorney General William Barr warned Trump against pardoning himself. Trump was advised that he could potentially face civil liability for his role in inciting the attack by encouraging his supporters to storm Congress. The federal investigation into the insurrection has put the entire pardon process “on hold,” meaning people who have been lobbying Trump for pardons, including Rudy Giuliani, may not receive one. (CNN / ABC News)

3/ The FBI warned law enforcement agencies of possible “armed protests” at all 50 state Capitols and at the U.S. Capitol starting Jan. 16. The FBI has also received information about a group calling for “storming” state, local, and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings if Trump is removed from office prior to Biden’s inauguration. “They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment,” the bulletin read, “a huge uprising will occur.” (ABC News / NBC News / CNN)

  • The National Guard will increase the number of troops in Washington, D.C., to at least 10,000 in advance of the presidential inauguration. Troop levels could rise to 15,000. About 6,200 Guardsmen have already deployed to D.C. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Axios)

  • House and Senate security officials declined Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund’s request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby two days before pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol. The FBI and the New York City Police Department also passed information to Capitol Police about the possibility of violence before the rally last week (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf resigned, days after criticizing Trump over the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Wolf joins Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as the the third Cabinet-level official to quit. (CNBC / Associated Press / Axios / CNN / Washington Post)

4/ Twitter permanently banned Trump “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” The decision came after Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch, Reddit, and other platforms made similar decisions. Twitter said two tweets that Trump had posted — one calling his supporters “patriots” and another saying he would not go to Biden’s inauguration — “were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.” Trump then tried to evade the ban by using the @POTUS Twitter account to send four tweets complaining that “Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech,” accusing Twitter employees of coordinating with Democrats “to silence me.” The Trump campaign’s Twitter account was also permanently banned after it shared the same four-tweet thread that Trump had attempted to post from the @POTUS account. Twitter also removed the accounts of Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, and other supporters of Trump who promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory. Trump reportedly went “ballistic” after getting banned and losing direct access to more than 88 million followers. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / NPR / CNBC / Axios / CBS News)

  • Amazon, Apple, and Google removed Parler – an app popular with Trump supporters, conservatives, and extremists – from their platforms. Parler, meanwhile, sued Amazon, alleging that the decision was “motivated by political animus” and anti-competitive reasons. Amazon Web Services cut off service to Parler, saying the platform violated Amazon’s terms of service by not doing enough to combat death threats and other risks to public safety. (New York Times / BuzzFeed News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Politico)

  • Stripe will no longer process credit card payments for Trump’s campaign website following last week’s riot at the Capitol. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The PGA Championship will no longer be held at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., next year. The organizers canceled plans to hold the event at Trump’s golf club in 2022 in the wake of last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, saying “It’s become clear that conducting the PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster would be detrimental to the PGA of America brand.” The Trump Organization responded, saying: “This is a breach of a binding contract, and they have no right to terminate the agreement.” (Associated Press / Washington Post / ABC News / NJ.com / New York Times)

5/ Trump urged Georgia’s lead elections investigator to “find the fraud” in a December phone call, saying the official would be a “national hero.” The call was separate from another Trump call to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, pressuring him to “find” enough votes to overturn the state’s presidential election results. On Dec. 23, Trump called the investigations chief for the Georgia secretary of state’s office and attempted to intervene in Raffensperger’s ongoing investigation into allegations that Cobb election officials had accepted mail ballots with signatures that didn’t match those on file. State officials ultimately concluded that the allegation had no merit. Since Election Day, Trump has made at least three calls to government officials in Georgia in an attempt to overturn Biden’s victory. (Washington Post)

  • White House officials forced Atlanta’s top federal prosecutor to resign because Trump was upset he wasn’t doing enough to investigate baseless claims of election fraud. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ About 2% of the U.S. population has been vaccinated since the FDA approved the first two vaccine candidates a month ago. The U.S. seven-day average of coronavirus-related deaths, meanwhile, now exceeds 3,000 a day. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Senate Democrats demanded that the Trump administration correct its “significant failures” in the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, saying the U.S. “cannot afford for this vaccination campaign to continue to be hindered by the lack of planning, communication, and leadership we have seen so far.” The Trump administration set a goal of inoculating 20 million Americans by the end of December, but only 9 million have received their first dose despite nearly 25.5 million doses have been distributed. Biden has promised 100 million shots in his first 100 days. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN)

poll/ 74% of voters say democracy in the United States is under threat. 56% say they hold Trump responsible for the mob that stormed the Capitol. (Quinnipiac / New York Times)

poll/ 57% of Americans want Trump to be immediately removed from office after he encouraged his supporters to riot inside the Capitol. (Reuters / ABC News)

Day 1450: "Incitement of insurrection."

1/ House Democrats plan to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump on Monday for “incitement of insurrection.” A draft copy of the impeachment resolution states that Trump “has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and […] thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.” The move follows Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s earlier call for Trump to “immediately” resign for his role in a “horrific assault on our democracy,” adding “If the President does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action.” Pence, meanwhile, privately ruled out invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. The House could vote on the articles of impeachment early as early as the middle of next week. More than 196 members of the House and 37 Senators have called for Trump to be removed from office. (CNN / New York Times / ABC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Axios / NBC News)

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. (CNBC)

  • 💻 Trump-Biden Transition Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNN

  • 👑 Portrait of a President: A President Increasingly Angry and Isolated. With resignations thinning the ranks around him and growing calls for his removal, president says he will depart peacefully on Jan. 20. (Wall Street Journal)

  • 👑 Portrait of a President: The White House slips deeper into crisis in the final days of the Trump presidency. (New York Times)

2/ Nancy Pelosi spoke to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about “preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities” or accessing the nuclear codes. In a letter to her House colleagues, Pelosi said “The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy.” Pelosi said Gen. Mark Milley “assured [her] that there are safeguards in place.” (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / NBC News)

3/ Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office opened a murder investigation into the death of a Capitol Police officer, who died after suffering injuries from the violent mob of Trump supporters at the Capitol. The investigation is being conducted jointly between the FBI and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, with cooperation from U.S. Capitol Police. (ABC News / CNN / Axios / New York Times / NBC News)

4/ Trump condemned the “heinous attack” on the Capitol that he incited and said he would leave office peacefully Jan. 20 after facing bipartisan calls for his removal and pressure from advisers to more forcefully respond to the riot, which left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. In his first tweet since getting temporarily blocked for egging on the violence by his supporters, Trump accepted no responsibility for the riot, but instead said: “To those who broke the law, you will pay.” The message came a day after Trump had encouraged the rioters to “go home” but ended with, “I love you.” White House counsel Pat Cipollone, meanwhile, has reportedly considered resigning after warning Trump that he risked legal exposure if he didn’t forcefully denounce the actions of his supporters who attacked the Capitol. In a separate video played at the Republican National Committee winter meeting, Trump thanked the committee members for their “loyalty.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / NPR)

  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned. DeVos decided resigned after learning that Pence opposed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. DeVos is the second cabinet-level official to step down. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Surprising no one, Trump announced that he will not attend Biden’s inauguration – two days after inciting a deadly riot at the Capitol. Trump will be the first president in more than 150 years — and only the fourth in U.S. history — to skip the ceremony. Biden addressed Trump’s decision, saying “It’s a good thing, him not showing up […] One of the few things he and I have ever agreed on.” (CBS News / CNBC / New York Times / Bloomberg)

  • Dominion Voting Systems sued lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation, demanding more than $1.3 billion in damages for spreading “wild” and “demonstrably false” allegations. Powell pushed Trump’s attempts to overturn election. (Washington Post / NBC News)

6/ The United States set a record for daily coronavirus-related deaths for the second day in a row, topping 4,000 deaths for the first time. Nearly 20,000 people in the country have died of Covid-19 in January alone. “We believe things will get worse as we get into January,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview. (CNBC / New York Times / NPR)

7/ The U.S. lost 140,000 jobs in December – the first net decline in payrolls since last spring’s mass layoffs. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, remained unchanged at 6.7%, which is down from its high of nearly 15% in April but about double the 3.5% rate this time last year. (CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

8/ Twitter permanently suspended Trump “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” The decision came after Facebook made a similar decision to extend an initial 24 hour suspension to an indefinite one. Twitter also removed the accounts of Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, and other supporters of Trump who promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory. (NBC News / CNBC / Axios)

Day 1449: "A horror show for America."

1/ Congress confirmed Biden’s presidential victory after a violent mob loyal to Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election. Following the violent assault on the Capitol, members of Congress and Pence made Biden’s victory official just after 3:40 a.m. in Washington. Biden received 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, and will be inaugurated the 46th president on Jan. 20. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Reuters)

2/ Trump agreed to “an orderly transition” one day after inciting a mob to storm the Capitol and minutes after Congress certified Biden’s win. While Trump acknowledged for the first time he will leave office, he didn’t, however, admit defeat or concede. Instead, in a statement tweeted at 3:49 a.m. by aide Dan Scavino, Trump said: “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.” (Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post / NPR / CNN)

3/ Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer called on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to immediately remove Trump from office. “By inciting sedition as he did yesterday, he must be removed for office,” Pelosi said. Earlier, Schumer said that “What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer” and the “quickest and most effective way” to remove Trump would be under the 25th Amendment. If Pence declines to act, Pelosi said Democrats were prepared to impeach Trump for a second time, and did not rule out canceling next week’s recess to bring the House back into session. “While there’s only 13 days left,” Pelsoi said, “any day could be a horror show for America.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Bloomberg / ABC News / CNN)

  • A trade group representing 14,000 U.S. companies called on Pence to “seriously consider” invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. “This is sedition and should be treated as such,” the National Association of Manufacturers said. “The outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy.” (CNBC / New York Times)

  • Biden characterized the mob of Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol as “insurrectionists domestic terrorist,” referring to the violence as “one of the darkest days in the history of our nation” and the attack an “unprecedented assault on our democracy.” Biden blamed Trump for inciting the violence, saying he had “unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of democracy” and that he’s a “president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, the Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done.” (Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

  • Trump refused requests to mobilize the National Guard to stop the mob at the Capitol. Pence eventually approved the order. (New York Times / CNN)

4/ The Justice Department said it would not rule out pursuing charges against Trump for his role in inciting a mob of his supporters to march on the Capitol and storm the building. “We are looking at all actors, not only the people who went into the building,” Michael Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, said. “If the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they’re gonna be charged.” The chairs of five House committees requested that FBI Director Christopher Wray brief them on the agency’s efforts to investigate the riot. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Trump told aides and advisers that he wants to pardon himself before leaving office. In multiple conversations since the election, Trump has asked whether he should pardon himself, including what the legal and political implications would be. It’s not clear, however, if Trump has brought up the idea since he incited his supporters to march on the Capitol and “fight.” Following the riots, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone advised Trump that he could face legal jeopardy for encouraging his supporters to storm the Capitol building. Trump has also considered pre-emptive pardons for Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Rudy Giuliani. (New York Times / ABC News)

6/ Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram suspended Trump after he posted a video of himself repeating baseless claims that the election had been “stolen” while urging his supporters, who he had earlier incited to go to the Capitol, to “go home.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Trump would be banned from Facebook and Instagram “indefinitely.” The ban will not be lifted before Inauguration Day. Twitter locked Trump’s account and deleted three tweets for using the platform “for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes.” Twitter threatened to permanently suspend Trump if he violated its rules again. YouTube also removed the video, while Shopify removed the online stores run by the Trump Organization and Trump campaign. (Politico / The Verge / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times / TechCrunch / NBC News)

  • Ivanka Trump deleted a tweet calling for “American patriots” – who stormed the Capitol – to stop the violence. (The Hill)

7/ Multiple Trump administration officials resigned after a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, including Elaine Chao (transportation secretary), Mick Mulvaney (Trump’s former acting chief of staff, now special envoy to Northern Ireland), Matthew Pottinger (deputy national security adviser), John Costello (senior cybersecurity official), Tyler Goodspeed (acting chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers), Stephanie Grisham (chief of staff to Melania Trump), Rickie Niceta (event planner), and Sarah Matthews (deputy White House press secretary). Mulvaney reportedly called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and told him: “I can’t do it. I can’t stay.” (New York Times / Axios / CNN / Associated Press / The Guardian / NPR)

  • White House Counsel Pat Cipollone reportedly instructed White House officials not to speak to Trump so they could reduce the chance that they could be prosecuted for treason under the Sedition Act. (Vanity Fair)

  • Trump banned Pence’s chief of staff from the White House. Trump blamed Marc Short for Pence’s decision to follow the Constitution as he presided over the Electoral College certification session. (Axios / Business Insider)

8/ A record 3,915 people died of Covid-19 in the United States on Wednesday – the second straight day that the country logged a record number of fatalities from the disease within a 24-hour period. The number of patients currently hospitalized nationwide is at a record high and 12 states hit a record number of hospitalizations. (Washington Post / ABC News)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~87,793,000; deaths: ~1,893,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~21,482,000; deaths: ~365,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Another 787,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, a slight decline from the previous week. (Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

9/ Trump awarded Medals of Freedom to three golfers less than 24 hours after pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol building and stalled congressional efforts to certify electoral college votes for Biden. (Washington Post)

poll/ 63% of voters believe Trump is at least “somewhat” responsible “for the events that led to” the riot at the Capitol. 49% say Trump is “very” responsible. (Politico)

Day 1448: "Death spiral."

1/ Pence rejected Trump’s demand to block certification of Biden’s win, saying only lawmakers can decide whether to accept or reject the Electoral College votes. On Tuesday, Pence told Trump that he does not have the authority to reject the electoral votes from states he lost. The meeting came hours after Trump inaccurately tweeted “The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.” This statement is not true and the vice president does not have the unilateral power to alter the results sent to Congress. On Wednesday, Pence informed lawmakers that he was rebuffing Trump’s demand as lawmakers gathered for a joint session of Congress to count the electoral votes, saying “It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.” (Politico / CNN / New York Times / Axios / USA Today)

2/ Mitch McConnell rebuked his Republican colleagues’ efforts to block the certification of the Electoral College, saying that overturning the results of the election “would damage our republic forever” and risked sending democracy into a “death spiral.” McConnell’s speech came after an objection was raised to the certification of Arizona’s 11 electoral votes to Biden and Harris by Rep. Paul Gosar and 60 other House colleagues minutes into the proceeding. McConnell denounced Trump’s “sweeping conspiracy theories” about election fraud and said he “will not pretend” voting to overturn the election would be a “harmless protest gesture.” (Axios / USA Today / ABC News)

3/ Trump encouraged thousands of supporters during a rally at the Ellipse to protest the count of electoral votes at the Capitol, saying “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol […] because you’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong.” Trump, speaking about an hour before the start of the joint session of Congress, told his fans: “We will never give up. We will never concede. You don’t concede when there is theft involved. Your country has had enough. We will not take it anymore. We won this election, and we won it by a landslide. This was not a close election.” Trump added: “We will stop the steal […] I’m going to be watching because history is going to be made.” During the rally, Trump urged Pence to take action, saying “If not I’m going to be very disappointed in you” and vowed to “primary the hell out of” members of Congress who didn’t go along with his bid to overturn the election results, calling them “pathetic” and “weak Republicans.” (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC)

4/ The U.S. Capitol went into lockdown as a mob of Trump supporters surrounded and then stormed the building, forcing Congress to abruptly pause the constitutional process to affirm Biden’s win. Shortly after 1 p.m. ET, House offices were evacuated as Trump’s supporters stormed Capitol barriers and dozens of people breached the building while the constitutional proceedings continued inside. Lawmakers inside the House chamber were told to shelter in place and put on gas masks as tear gas and smoke grenades were fired in the Rotunda. Several House office buildings were evacuated due to potential bomb threats. Pence, meanwhile, was evacuated. At least one person was shot and taken to a hospital. As the mob engulfed the Capitol, Trump did not call for calm but instead tweeted that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” The Army activated the entire District of Columbia National Guard – 1,100 troops – in response to a request from Mayor Muriel Bowser, who also declared a citywide curfew starting at 6 p.m. It was the first time the Capitol had been breached since the British attacked and burned the building during the War of 1812. Lawmakers, meanwhile, will resume counting Electoral College votes late Wednesday night. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal / USA Today / Bloomberg / CNBC / Associated Press)

5/ Trump blamed his opponents for the violence and praised the mob that stormed the Capitol as “very special,” saying “we can’t play into the hands of these people.” In a televised speech Biden condemned Trump for stoking the violence and demanded that the president call on his supporters to end the “unprecedented assault” on democracy. “This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition, and it must end now,” he added. “I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.” Moments later, Trump tweeted a one-minute video – more than two hours after the mob overtook the building – repeating his lie that “the election was stolen” while advising the group to “go home now. We have to have peace.” He added: “We love you.” Trump later reiterated his false claim that the election was stolen, tweeting for his supporters to “remember this day.” (New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post / The Guardian / CNBC / Axios)

6/ Democrats won control of the Senate with victories in Georgia’s two runoff elections, assuring slim majorities in both chambers of Congress for Biden. Raphael Warnock defeated Kelly Loeffler, and Jon Ossoff won his race against David Perdue. With the Senate split, Kamala Harris will break 50-50 ties, putting Democrats in charge of the legislative agenda, committee chairmanships, and Congress’ confirmation and investigative powers. Some Republicans blamed Trump’s weeks of baseless claims that Georgia’s electoral system was rigged for the Democratic sweep. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico)

7/ The Trump administration is attempting undo some civil rights protections for minority groups. The Justice Department submitted a change to how it enforces Title VI of the Civil Rights Act for White House approval. (New York Times)

8/ Russian hackers behind the cyber espionage campaign accessed the Justice Department email accounts. About 3,500 employees’ emails accounts were accessed. There is no indication that classified systems were affected. (Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

9/ Trump administration officials auctioned off oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge despite a number of banks saying they would not finance Arctic energy projects due to flat oil prices. The sale of 11 tracts on just over 550,000 acres for $14.4 million was a fraction of what Republicans predicted it would yield. (Washington Post)

10/ Biden plans to nominate Merrick Garland for attorney general. Biden selected Garland over former Sen. Doug Jones and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates. Republicans blocked Garland’s Supreme Court nomination in 2016. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / USA Today / Axios)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~86,949,000; deaths: ~1,878,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~21,226,000; deaths: ~360,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

Day 1447: "Save America."

1/ Trump falsely claimed that Pence has the power to unilaterally throw out electoral votes when Congress meets to certify the election results on Wednesday. While Pence’s constitutional role is to ceremonially oversee Congress’s count of the Electoral College votes, Trump instead wants Pence to reject the votes for Biden, tweeting – falsely – that Pence “has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.” And during a rally in Georgia, Trump told supporters: “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us.” Meanwhile, a group of House and Senate Republicans plan to object to the certification of several states, forcing as much as 12 hours of debate and a half-dozen votes. There are not, however, enough votes in either chamber to overturn the outcome of the election and Pence would have to announce the failure of each one. Trump, nevertheless, vowed to continue to “fight like hell” to keep the White House and – again – falsely alleged that Democrats stole the election. When a joint session of Congress convenes Wednesday to certify the Electoral College votes, Trump plans to speak at a “Save America” rally near the White House. (New York Times / NBC News / NPR / Washington Post / CBS News / CNN / New York Times / ABC News)

  • Georgia Senate Runoff Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal

  • A federal judge in Georgia denied another attempt by Trump to decertify the state’s presidential election results. Trump and his lawyers asked the judge to throw out the verified results, citing several previously debunked fraud allegations. Attorneys for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger called the effort a bid to “disenfranchise millions of Georgia voters at the thirteenth hour.” (Politico / New York Times / CNN)

  • Trump replaced the top federal prosecutor in Atlanta with another Trump-appointed prosecutor – bypassing the top career prosecutor who would normally take over on an acting basis. U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak abruptly resigned Monday after serving three years in the role. Pak’s resignation came a day after the release of a recording of a phone call between President Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. During the call, Trump seemed to denigrate a federal prosecutor in Georgia, saying, “You have your never-Trumper U.S. attorney there.” (Talking Points Memo / Politico / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / The Hill)

  • Dominion Voting Systems plans to sue attorney Sidney Powell for defamation, and is exploring similar suits against Trump and others. (Axios)

2/ Arizona, California, and Rhode Island have the highest Covid-19 infection rates per capita of anywhere in the world. Coronavirus cases in the South, meanwhile, are rising quickly and account for more cases than any other U.S. region. And, nine states reported record Covid-19 hospitalizations Monday. (NBC News / Bloomberg / ABC News)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~86,231,000; deaths: ~1,866,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~21,008,000; deaths: ~357,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Scientists are analyzing research data to see if they can double the supply of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine by cutting doses in half. (New York Times)

  • The House and Senate are using a Covid-19 test that the FDA says is prone to false results. (Politico)

3/ Four American intelligence agencies confirmed that the hack of the U.S. government and corporations was “likely Russian in origin.” The FBI, the National Security Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said that “fewer than 10” federal agencies had been compromised by “an intelligence gathering effort.” The rare joint statement also said that the operation was “ongoing” – nearly a month after it was discovered. Trump, meanwhile, has cast doubt on that hack, suggesting that it could have been China and that “everything is well under control.” (Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News)

4/ The EPA finalized a “transparency” rule which will limit or exclude research about how pollution impacts human health. The new rule requires researchers to disclose their raw data. Leading researchers and academic organizations, however, argue that the new rule will restrict the EPA from using the most consequential research, because it often includes confidential medical records and other data that cannot be released because of privacy concerns. (Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Trump will not be allowed to visit Scotland to play golf during Biden’s inauguration. Prestwick airport has reportedly been told to expect the arrival of a U.S. military Boeing 757 aircraft, which is sometimes used by Trump, on January 19. Scotland’s first minister, however, stressed that it is illegal to travel in or out of the country without a valid reason, saying “Coming to play golf is not what I would consider to be an essential purpose.” Following news reports of Trump’s potential trip to Turnberry, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the reports were “not accurate. President Trump has no plans to travel to Scotland.” (New York Times / Washington Post / The Independent / Sunday Post / The Guardian)

Day 1446: "No way."

1/ Trump pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” him enough votes to overturn the state’s presidential election results. Trump told Brad Raffensperger in an hourlong phone call, which also included Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and legal advisers, “We have won the election in Georgia based on all of this. And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, Brad.” Raffensperger pushed back, telling Trump “the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.” Trump, however, continued to push his debunked theories of election fraud, like “stuffed ballot boxes,” and, at one point said: “So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.” Trump later added: “So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.” At one point, Trump warned that Raffensperger was taking “a big risk” by not pursuing his false claims and threatened him with “a criminal offense.” Throughout the call, Trump repeated that “There’s no way I lost Georgia […] There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.” Trump lost to Biden by 11,779 votes. Since the election, there have been 18 attempted calls from the White House to the Georgia secretary of state’s office. An intern monitoring the line, however, thought the calls were a prank and hung up. (Washington Post / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / New York Times / NPR / Politico)

2/ Trump’s call to Georgia’s secretary of state may have violated laws that prohibit interference in federal or state elections. Brad Raffensperger said that while it was unlikely his office would open an investigation into the call with Trump, he suggested that a criminal probe could still be launched by an Atlanta-area district attorney. Raffensperger added, “I understand that the Fulton County district attorney wants to look at it. Maybe that’s the appropriate venue for it to go.” A pair of House Democrats, meanwhile, asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to open a criminal probe, believing that Trump “engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / The Guardian / NPR)

3/ A top election official in Georgia accused Trump’s legal team of “intentionally misleading” voters about voter fraud. In a press conference, Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia voting system implementation manager, systematically refuted Trump’s already-debunked claims of voter fraud, saying “This is all easily, provably false. Yet the president persists, and by doing so undermines Georgians’ faith in the election system.” Sterling added: “It was intentional, it was obvious, and anybody watching this knows that.” (USA Today / New York Times)

4/ A group of at least 11 Republican senators and senators-elect plan to challenge Biden’s Electoral College win on Jan. 6, calling for an “emergency 10-day audit” to investigate Trump’s numerous unfounded election fraud claims. The senators – led by Ted Cruz – provided no evidence, but cited unsubstantiated allegations of fraud and said they intend “to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified.’” The same claims have been repeatedly rejected by courts. The new Congress will meet Wednesday to formally count the Electoral College votes. Pence, as the president of the senate, will preside over the joint session and signaled support for the effort to vote against certification. (